Blogpost # 912 PORTALS (poesie)

Our quotidian breakfast of morning media
Nourished, but our sadness and lament
The wars, injustice, the human failings
Does rudely, overspill our morning bowl
In sad attendance of the daily drama
Of vile events, once thought, inconceivable.

But one morning, when so sadly, employed
We saw thru the window, three white-tailed deer
Tails slowly wagged, they walked as they nibbled leaves.
Eschewing the drama, we rushed to the entrance door
To view more closely, the welcome tan beauties.

The gentle beasts walked peacefully, and silently
Unconcerned with such human artifice,
Such as war, bias and the National Debt Limit
The sole concern, is more succulent leafs
As they walked on in tripartite peace.

Looking upward, at the trees’ yellow-green primavera
Which, as appeared, seemed to be straining sunward
Like blue-jay hatchlings awaiting mama and food
We also saw blushing red tulips, and white-centered daffodils
All of whom, seemed to say,
Cross the portal, come to the woodlands
See quotidian life as naturally, it was to be.

Leonard N. Shapiro 4/30/23

Blogpost # 911      THE SHELL GAME

[Precis: It would appear that education is the dividing line in American politics. The following essay will reveal our understanding as to how big business, anti-regulation interests induce the inadequately educated, poorly, informed, citizen to vote against their own, personal interest.]

As known, Evolution’s paramount species, Homo sapiens was generously gifted, with a brain of higher quality and more utility than that of other fauna, roaming Planet Earth, thus, affording to him the existential, capability to develop and exercise judgment. Reason, based upon learned, empirical experience, is the ubiquitous and dynamic mechanism with which he suitably, guides his life. However, all too often, actions are performed and decisions taken, not based upon reason, but upon extraneous stimuli (examples: passion, erroneous, or self-serving, influence of others, fixed routine or habit, associations derived from perceived similar, past experience with like stimuli (or similar person).

A diverse, plethora of interests, shrewdly aware of the common inclination of individuals to choose, or be persuaded to, facilely, “short circuit” decisions, for reasons, not founded in reason, will tactically, utilize various socially persuasive devices to influence the targeted individual or group, most impactful of which, may be that of “associative choice.”

Whether the context be commercial, political or personal, it should not take an in-depth analysis, to identify, the Terpsichorean performance, often aimed at the poorly, informed and vulnerable citizen. This dance of deception, subtly, eliciting the desired point of view, or, contextually, the desired political position, (and, hence, the vote) cunningly, utilizes the behavioral phenomenon, made famous by Dr. Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). Such dynamic process is the conditioned (i.e., “Pavlovian”) predictably, engineered response, elicited by the repetitive application of previously associated, stimuli. In the most famous of the Russian scientist’s, classic experiments, dogs, mouths hungrily, watered,  at the recalled, repeated association of a ringing bell with being given food.

It is, far beyond the intended scope of this writing, or, indeed, our capacity, to undertake to relate the manifold instances of empirical applications of the ubiquitous, Pavlovian (conditioned) response, so vital in marketing, public relations, politics and human interaction in general.  At present, we are concerned, specifically, with the pernicious and demonstrably successful, impact of that, non-rational, associative technique, on the hordes of citizens, thereby induced to espouse rightward-tilting, dogma.

Such arrogant and tactically, manipulative, practice is indisputably, analogous in virtue, principle and dynamic technique, to the grift, popularly, identified as “Three Card Monte,” or the “Shell Game.” In the latter “games,” the player is the victim of a fool-proof, sleight-of-hand maneuver, consistently overcoming his hapless, confidence. In lieu of the utilized, three playing cards or three walnut-type shells and a pea, the political charlatan, tactically, evokes, by way of reflexive response, the desired, political response from the victim. In lieu of Pavlov’s associative bell sound, certain “buzz-words” have been instilled by repetitive, tactical propaganda, aimed at eliciting the desired “reflexive” (or “associative”) response; from their designated targets; typically, the large horde of ”underbelly,” populist American citizens. Constant bombardment by so-called,  ”News Media,” like the undemocratic, Fox News and a cadre of unprincipled radio commentators, cater to the uninformed populist, spew hatred, false accusations and MAGA’s specialty, “alternate reality,” to a highly, receptive, cohort of ignorant and discontented followers, who are effectively manipulated and tactically, convinced, that the official news reports, heard or read, are tactically false, and that the propagandist broadcaster, by contrast, is, exclusively and responsibly, revealing the authentic and truthful, facts, to his loyal audience. In fairness, the official patent for the promulgated concept, of “alternate facts,” must indisputably, be granted to its ingeniously egocentric creator, Donald J. Trump.

The political concept of the Pavlovian style, “shell game,” universally, features constant, repetitive, (like Pavlov’s bell)  right-wing, media messages, which, consistently, portray false and misleading versions of contemporary events, or purported objectionable inclinations or actions, taken by the demeaned subject, most often, encapsulated in a word, recalling their reality-skewed, often, defamatory, diatribes. In this regard, there appears to be a virtually, unlimited choice of tactical and manipulatively, uttered names and references, which, are, by their programmatic, repetitive association with tactically, chosen, negative or unwholesome references,  words, people, or concepts designed to create the intended, indisposition towards them.  For purposes of illustration, we will cite, and briefly comment on a few, instilled, “knee-jerk,” negative, buzzwords.

 [Word stimulus: “Socialism,” “Socialist”]

At the top of the motivational, or associative, knee-jerk, buzzwords is the word, “socialist.” It is our observation that proposed assistance to the economically, needy or affordable health care as a part of America’s exercise of compassionate capitalism, is predictably, awarded the inculcated, (faux) epithet, “socialist,” or awarded the presumably, obnoxious designation of “Socialism.” This Pavlovian installed negative attribution, to the government’s exercise of needed assistance, is tactically, installed in the mind of the unschooled citizen, despite the raw truth that all Americans, including the manipulative interests, happily avail themselves of its full benefits.

 The traditionally pernicious goal of the perpetrators of this absurd, tactical charge, typically, is the big business sociopathic ideation that profits are more important than the monetary expense of compliance with government regulations, protecting human life and health. The participation of the federal government in disaster control, protection of food, water and medicine, loans and financial assistance to business, apparently, do not enjoy the epithet of socialistic enterprise. As appears, the dreaded scourge of evil socialism only arrives, regarding matters of assistance to, or safety for, the needy citizen.

[Name stimulus: Nancy Pelosi, Hilary Clinton

The cynically, arrogant engineer of reflexive responses can confidently expect the desired result by the mere mention of the name, Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton on right-wing media. Rep. Pelosi, until her recent retirement, the talented, idealistic and much revered, Leader of the House Democrats, was, energetically, demonized by the disgraceful President Trump, making predictable a Pavlovian, visceral response of venal hatred, from any of the auspicious MAGA acolytes upon the mere mention of her name. The subject, conditioned response was especially articulated, by a MAGA madman, psychotically, fracturing her husband’s skull with a hammer.

The tactical mention of the name of the former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, reflexively, evoked the Trump demand, “Lock her up!” from the MAGA cultists. Clinton, a former, Secretary of State, inadvertently, had a few classified documents on her computer server, and upon their discovery, responsibly, cooperated in their removal. No such “Lock him up,” was angrily, demanded when it was revealed that Donald Trump intentionally, and illegally, removed cartons of secret government documents and attempted to refuse to return them.

[Word stimuli: various]

Shamefully and neurotically, it appears that any reference to any term relating to gender, such as “gay,” “transgender” and the like, evokes contempt and hatred from the biased and right-wing dodo, too ignorant to understand that no baby has the personal choice of configuration of genes and hormones. We are, additionally and competently, advised that the newborn child, additionally, has no choice of skin color, nor of the specific ethnos into which he is born.

 References to the term,” immigration” that, responsively, evoke predictable, bias, in some citizens, ironically, and selfishly, omit the inescapable, empirical fact, that our Nation, is entirely, composed of immigrants and their descendants.

In our considered metaphysical and empirical view, that a large population of inadequately educated and poorly informed, citizens, poses an existential danger to the existence of a Democratic Republic; one, conceivably, yet more existentially, hazardous, than the dangers of attempted sedition.


 Blogpost # 910   OUTPOST NATION: Redux 2

We remain hopeful, that the feelings of ennui, or impatience, at the perceived repetition of an identical theme, such as is the case regarding this essay, is far less painful than the recognized tragedy of its reiterated subject. We speak, yet, once more, of the widespread tragedy of popular gun ownership.

Reportedly, no less than Five Thousand American lives, (many of which were young schoolchildren), were senselessly, and tragically, killed by psychopathic, armed gunmen, so far this year, (viz., in the past four months, alone). For many decades, thousands of innocent adults and children have been murdered,  grievously, injured and/or,  chronically, traumatized, due to the unregulated ownership of instruments of hand-held, human destruction, the pernicious singular accomplishment of the Nation’s right wing.

A tactically false, self-serving, and illusory reading of the Constitution’s Second Amendment, which in part, affords to “the People” the right to “bear arms,” has been the fundamental, holy grail, of the NRA, its minions, and those others that chose to assert the purported right to privately, maintain weaponry. Any instructive reading of the Nation’s history of the relevant period would identify the specific identity of the  Amendment’s determinative, grant, by its words,The  People.”

History recounts the fervent debates, between the “Federalists,” who stood for a Central Government, for the new Nation, and the “States Rights,” people who, advocated the cause of separate, State- controlled, entities. The relevant portion of the Second Amendment, relates the terms of their, hard fought, settlement, of the issue, viz., the establishment of a governing Central Government, yet, reserving the right of the member States, nevertheless, (“the People”) to raise their own independent, standing militias which would have the right to bear arms. The self-serving, ersatz ,right-wing gospel, would have the saner portion of the public, accept their self-serving and dystopian, belief, that the elegant, white wigged and philosophical Founders, intended to create a historically, radical experiment in political  democracy, conducted and populated by “ Wild West gunslingers.”

[N.B.: in the age of our Founders, “arms” connoted, “muskets.”]  More on the dystopian image of a society of “gunslingers,” after the following, b rief, but fundamental, inquiry.

We have never been able to successfully, comprehend any acceptable use for firearms, other than in the context of defensive, wartime. What utilitarian service can possibly be facilitated by a gun? Why would a mentally healthy, normally, socialized citizen require an instrument, designed only, to cause death or grievous injury to another? Our small pocket knife, by utilitarian contrast, can be serviceable in cutting string, opening packages, slicing cheese and fruit, whittling, cutting bait and fishing line, sharpening pencils, slicing salami, cutting fabric, poking needed holes in tight leather belts and in many other acceptable applications. What conceivable, purpose can be accomplished by the use of a gun, other than the intentional act of bloody, primitive, killing or crippling other human beings?  Are the gun activists, lizard- brained enough ascribe to the belief that our learned and pacific, Deist Founders, intended to create a Nation in which there was a  Constitutional franchise to kill or maim one’s fellow citizen?

With the catalytic, assistance of the unique and unprecedented, persona evinced by Donald J. Trump (in or out of office,) the less than sufficiently, educated or troubled, citizen was induced to perceive modern reality as non-factual, conspiratorial, and threatening.  Society thus morphed into notably, less neighborly, spontaneous and personal interaction and more isolation. Comforting, informal, and routine conversation, to a significant degree, was superseded by a more constrained and selective style of personal interaction. Anecdotally, those citizens, naturally given to innate feelings of loneliness and insularity, experienced an exacerbation of such feelings by the new and unfamiliar context of reality, further promoted by the mandatory isolation and required masking during the Covid pandemic.

It is our considered view that, in significant part, due to the unpredictable, unorthodox and incapable Trump stewardship, long established and fundamental mores of the Nation appeared to be bypassed, inconsistently recognized or skewed. Reality was assaulted to the dystopic extent that even the settled assurance, afforded by  universal consensus as to empirical facts  was upended by subjective, “alternate” facts, giving faux substance to the most paranoid of conspiracy ideations. The observed result, amounted to an increase in a previously, developing, divisiveness and balkanization, of the American population, with everlasting damage to its previously existing, assurances of security and National cohesion. Mistrust and even, fear, began to supersede traditional assumptions of citizen loyalty and commonality. The unfortunate tragic-comedy of the “winking approval” of the “would be” autocratic orange-haired, despot, as it did, the anti-democratic, bigoted, White Christian Militias and most profitably, the NRA.

Guns of varying potential lethality are seen at supermarkets, stores, schools, churches, synagogues, public parks, gymnasia, cars, in public transportation, and stadia. Not since the Hollywood portrayal of the of the era of the Old Wild West or, perhaps, the California Gold Rush, has there been such a visible proliferation of guns, not to mention, modern improvements in unlimited impact, from pistols (automatic or otherwise) shotguns, rifles, to rapid-fire, military weaponry.

Unless mainstream American is able, by vote, educational means, or otherwise, change the tactically, errant reading of the much abused, Second Amendment, the Nation will continue on it’s dark journey along the Pinocchio route, only to arrive at a dangerous, dystopic and non- democratic, nightmare.

[pliny SUGGESTION]: As a  fraternal gesture to the saner portion of our Nation’s population, those “Right to Life” adherents who, simultaneously, and unhesitatingly, advocate for liberal gun ownership, should, at a minimum, try medication.


Blogpost # 907   A WRINKLE IN TIME

We reliably experience a negative, visceral reaction, with each viewed replication of commercials, hawking the sale and cosmetic use of botulism toxin, (the latter, high on the list of the world’s most dangerous substances) for the purpose of removing facial wrinkles.

Such antipathy is founded on two separate and distinct bases. The first simply relates to a general concern for physical health; the second, by contrast, resides in the more esoteric context of emotional health and the development of mature perspective. Such latter concerns relate to widespread issues of personal insecurity and resultant, sophomoric, criteria for acceptability. These subjects are far more complex in their comprehension, than our initial, straightforward comment implicitly, questioning the ethics of marketing programs, designed, to exploit commonplace, egocentric insecurity.

With regard to the second (more complex) context, we have long been puzzled, as to the questionable election of individuals (mostly female,) inarguably, desirous of experiencing a long and fulfilling life of salubrious, good health, to assent to the conveyance, under their protective skin, of one of the Planet’s most toxic substances?  What are that person’s exigent priorities? Does one refrain from smoking, avoid ingesting too much sugar, control the extent of his ingestion of alcohol, eat sufficient high-quality protein and limit the ingestion of fat, regularly partake of fruit, fresh salads and vegetables, stay sufficiently, hydrated, get regular exercise, to then, voluntarily, choose to introduce a deadly toxin into his systemic chemistry? The intriguing question, as to “purpose” constitutes our salient theme.

We are obliged to assume that the sole, (conceivable) motivation, for this voluntary, hazardous, ingestion of such exotic body pollutant, is the compulsive, desire, responsive to the tactical lure of advertisements, to eliminate spontaneously, developing, facial, or body wrinkles, (a chemical property of biotoxin). Such compulsive, aspiration, can, by simple psychological diagnosis, be pathologically identified, analogous to the medical detection of dangerous, toxicity in the systemic bloodstream.

We would assert, contrariwise, that the mature perception and respectful acceptance of the stereotypic, stages of gradual and progressive change in physical appearance,  gradually occurring during the natural progression of life (for those, fortunate to live a normal lifespan) is the healthiest, most effective and commendable, route to temporal happiness and long-time, personal satisfaction.

The issue regarding the possibility of harm arising from the use of Botox toxin for cosmetic purposes can be seen as a sub-text in the more basic, subject of insecurity, perceived, self-image, fundamentally, making one vulnerable to the tactical, commercial ratification of faux criteria, for social acceptability.

The significant commercial success of many manufacturers of apparel and women’s cosmetics may well be attributed to the combination of human frailty and self-conscious insecurity, catalyzed by such business enterprises by attractive advertisement and canny sales tactics. Without such insecurity, especially regarding, the neurotic fear of aging, profits may, possibly, decline, but, only at the expense of the confidence, self-assurance and equanimity of humankind.

In an earlier writing, we emphasized (as if it were conceivably, necessary) the empirical fact that aging is not a “disease” but a natural, and often, dynamic, and productive stage of life. Contrasted with some loss of physical prowess and the possible acquisition of some discomfort, old age has a plethora of valuable and ultimately, satisfying benefits, viz., the beneficial reward of years of an empirically, developed, perception, matured and curated, by personal experience. So much of the reality of life, is sufficiently, and finally understood, accepted and appreciated. Such wisdom, or, mature perception of reality, is of existential necessity in the acquisition of a fulfilled life.

Finally, and perhaps, of overriding significance to the continuing evolution of humankind, is the assessment and recalculation, where needed, of Man’s priorities regarding his attribution of relative importance, based upon his reason and founded in his experiential understanding of “life.

It would seem to be inarguable, that over the course of Man’s lifetime, the acquisition of a mature perception of himself, in relation to other members of humankind, be they, subjectively, perceived as similar, or exotic, as well as the global environment, itself, would be a far more appropriate undertaking, than neurotically attempting, to publish, as our, selected true identity, a “freeze-frame,” outer appearance, anachronistically, replicative of ourselves at an earlier, (and decidedly, less informed), stage of life.



It requires no especial exercise of scrutiny to observe that the patience of the mainstream, American citizen, has been sorely, tested by the seemingly, eternal and frustrating delay, in the meting out of retributive punishment to the former President, Donald J. Trump and his lieutenants, and, thereby, attain, a much needed reaffirmation of the Nation’s signature democracy, and it’s moral aspirations toward universal equality.

The mainstream citizen was totally, “gobsmacked” by the news that Donald Trump, a real estate grifter and glitzy, third-rate T.V. game show host, was elected to the Office of the American Presidency. He could not, possibly, have any idea of the ensuing National ramifications during Trump’s term as Chief Executive, nor, of more consequence, the resultant morphing of the traditional democratic image and persona of the American Nation.

It took precious little time for mainstream voters to, discover that Trump was completely incapable and unsuitable for the high office, fortuitously, afforded to him. With precious little wisdom and experience, the ignorant Chief Executive appointed a like, unsuitable Cabinet, consisting of serial flatterers, rather than knowledgeable and dedicated National advisers.

During his single, and singular, four-year term, in which he was, unprecedentedly, twice,  Congressionally, impeached, the Nation was managed with the sagacity and rationality of the protagonist in Lewis Carrol’s “ Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Historic allies of the United States were offended, while, venal enemies of America, like Russia, North Korea and Mainland China, were befriended. Existentially important treaties, (military), (i.e. NATO), as well as environmental, (viz., Japanese Accords) saw disparagement or actual withdrawal. His mismanagement and irresponsible oversight of National affairs, were evident, regarding the Covid pandemic, taxes, education, scientific research, and other precedential areas of leadership responsibility, with special emphasis on immigration, racial justice and women’s rights.

It may be ominously, noted that the foregoing, explicit, demonstrations of ignorance and prejudice, were lauded and deemed highly acceptable by a large, newly federated horde of literacy-challenged and disaffected Americans, who seem to identify with, and delight in Trump’s generally, brash unconventionality and demonstrated racial and gender bigotry..

The historic Nightmare is notably, exacerbated, by Trump’s copious criminal felonies, many of which, were publicly viewed on National television. Two of the latter instances, cited, in slightly more detail, hereinafter, are his seditious invitation, addressed to his cultish sycophants, to stage the 1/6 violent, insurrection at Washington’s Capitol Building and his brazen telephonic request to Georgia’s Secretary of State, to falsify the latter State’s voting results.

Trump’s plethora of criminal acts also feature, sub -rosa, conspiracy to secretly, bribe prostitutes, personal and business tax fraud, substantial violations of the “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution, illegal conversion and purloining of secret government documents, sexual assault, violations of  Federal and State Tax Laws, bribery and extortion.

In similar, autocratic fashion to his mentors and friends, dictators, Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jung-Un and Viktor Oban, who he publically, referred to as admirable leaders (“top of the Line”). Trump chose to avail himself of the classic, autocratic tactic, “The Big Lie,” viz., alleging, despite the absence of a scintilla of proof to such effect, and the multiple certifications of accuracy of Biden’s win, that the election was” stolen” from him by the Biden supporters. Such, “Big Lie,” was the alleged basis for the Trump incited, anti-democratic,” clarion call to his populist base, to stage the 1/6 insurrection, aimed at the destruction of the Nation’s Republican Democracy.

We have been, frustratingly, unable to comprehend the continued, persistence of the large, underbelly, populist following ( inclusive of many House Republicans) of  Donald Trump, despite universal public knowledge of his criminal, civic and domestic miscreance, his incapacitating ignorance, his exclusive and neurotic love of himself and his proven, lack of moral compass. In the course of the National trauma, experienced during his one term  as President, his demonstrated, hatred of democracy, exclusive, self -adoration, his pathological absence of conscience, empathy or moral compass, Trump has given rise to existing hordes of his devotees, loyal disbelievers in empirical fact, and convenient promoters of conspiratorial ideation.

We are confident that, in the very near future, appropriate and sufficient, legal retribution will be meted out to this miscreant individual and his compliant accessories.  Nevertheless, in our view, any celebratory, inclination, based upon the expectation that the extant contemporary challenge to America’s democracy will thereby, have been defeated, may be unrealistically, premature, or possibly, Pollyannaish.


* Apologies to Mr. Charles Dickens for the use of the above title.

Blogpost # 905   THE FRANCHISE   


[Phil N. Blanks, had only recently, retired from his (“disappointing”) career as a (“bored”) Court clerk, and lived alone, since his contentious wife, Hortense, left him, after eight and one-half months of marriage,(for a bald, mustached, tenor- saxophone player from Hoboken. Getting out of bed, one rainy Monday, he happened to recall an exotic article that he read in his local barbershop, entitled: “Uncovering the Meaning of Life.” The subject article, as he recalled, concerned a certain, Nepalese Guru, who, reportedly, after seven years of dedicated fasting and silent meditation, was successful in the discovery of life’s ultimate, “meaning.”  Phil hoped that the receipt of such a fundamental revelation from the holy man might afford him some objective and mature insight, into his present, grim existence.

To condense the ensuing facts, Phil, at substantial monetary expense, great physical effort (flight to Nepal, transport by a bouncy, water buffalo-drawn cart to the crest of the mountain, the site of the guru’s residential cave) at last, arrived at the Guru’s dark cave and, as instructed on a posted, multi-lingual notice, deposited the requested, monetary donation in an empty jar (still containing a tattered, commercial label, “mango chutney”). After a period of silence, a bearded and wizened, the elderly guru, dressed in a yellow-stained toga and a green turban, asked: “What can we do for you, young man?

Phil, in nervous anticipation of an ancient, metaphysical, reply, inquired, in a respectfully, submissive tone:   “Holy Sir, what is Life?” The Guru, after a brief, period of deep inner contemplation, with closed eyes, and in chanting meter, intoned the answer; “Life, my son is a river.” Phil, confused, respectfully, but diffidently, inquired: “What do you mean, by the words, “a River”? The Guru, suddenly, shocked, and in a sudden state of panic and high anxiety, shakily, responded: “You mean it isn’t?”]

Having accumulated sufficient years to inarguably, qualify for the category of elder citizen, we feel qualified to assert certain contextually, relevant, points. It has been our observation that, in his later years, there often occurs in Man, a useless, but, irrepressible, inclination to inquire of himself, the metaphysical question: “What is the meaning (or, purpose) of life?” It is the uselessness and irrationality of this latter experience that provides the theme and context of this writing. As will be maintained below, the extent of utility of such inquiries is, at most, limited to their occasional use as an expression or release, of temporal frustration or disappointment.

To empirically, conclude that any of our Planet’s fauna (including Homo sapiens) or flora, is alive (has life) is simply to have made the determination that they are “self-functioning,” i.e. ingesting, voiding, growing, procreating. To have life (to be “living”) is, relevantly, to be self-functioning. The growing blade of grass has life, the mechanical lawnmower does not.  A horsefly, a goldfinch, a snake, a bobcat, a deer all have life until they cease functioning.

Life, itself, is a unique, singular and fortuitous, phenomenon, one that, is a mechanical-chemical-biological matter; it is nature’s grant of a fortuitous franchise, for fauna and fauna, to enjoy the privilege of function within the parameters of their innate capability and environment. Can one rationally, declare that the life of the horsefly, goldfinch, snake, bobcat and deer have any “purpose,” or “meaning,” other than to live?  Competing species, in nature, strive solely, to live and procreate, Disney Studios or the Hallmark Card Co., notwithstanding.

Nature’s singular, and priceless grant of the franchise of life, itself, is procedural, i.e. it simply and fortuitously, provides the arena, for sentient beings, i.e., Mankind, to possess the opportunity, or elective choice, if desired, to seek substantive, personal meaning and purpose. It does not carry with it, ancillary purpose or meaning; the latter qualities may be developed in the potential of the individual of the human species, himself, to derive meaning, and exploit opportunities, in his own life, or to refrain from doing so. There is no program, or implicit motive, ancillary to the acquisition of the natural franchise, to live, and, when deemed appropriate, to elect to, or refrain from, living a (chosen), rational and meaningful life.

For the five years of its existence, this blog space has been, primarily, focused on, and dedicated to, the advancement of meaningful life and has attempted to extol, among other things, an elective interest in reading good books,  appreciation of the arts and sciences, and the pursuit of individual, outside interests, and their resultant, progress toward mature understanding and acceptance of one’s inner self, the exotic potpourri of other human inhabitants of the Planet, and, hopefully, to the attainment of the ultimately, meaningful, goal of wisdom.


Blogpost # 904     IN ONE ERA, AND OUT THE OTHER*

In the retrospective designation of notable periods in Man’s past, historians and sociologists generally select a representational reference to significant events or stages of development. In our view, the most aesthetic reference, is the designation of the period of profuse artistic creation in Paris, preceding the First World War (1871-1880), viz., “La Belle Époque.” Philosophers do have their “Dark Ages,” and “Age of Enlightenment,” Economists, their “Industrial Revolution”.

In our Nation, such designations, appear to be more prosaic, and referentially historic: “Colonial Settlement” (1600s –1763), “American Revolution,” (1763-1783), “National Expansion,” (1815-1880), “Civil War and Restoration,” (1861-1827) “The Two World Wars” (1914- 1945), “The Contemporary Era.”

The American “Contemporary Era,” has, unfortunately, been witness to substantial and contentious, National stress, the Great Depression, the Nixon Years, the Viet Nam War, the assassination of President Kennedy; but, none so dangerous to the continuance of American Democracy, as the surprising ascendance to the Presidency of an orangutan, hair- colored demagogic, charlatan whose last name, prophetically, rhymes with the word, “Dump.” We do have a measure of premonition as to notable, empirically, based, designations of our specific period, yet we await history’s choice of denomination. The American Nation and its democracy have indeed, survived flawed Presidencies such as those of Andrew Johnson, Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon, but its bizarre and shameful travails under the one, four-year term of the Trump Presidency, can be perceived as comparable, in irrationality, to the tea party of Lewis Carrol’s “ Mad Hatter,” and in its bizarre optics, to Kafka’s “Metamorphosis.”  

In bright contrast to the capable, principled and admirable tutelage of the Nation, by the Presidential Administration of Barack Obama, his immediate successor, Donald J. Trump, effectively, evinced an unprecedented, toxic and potentially, metastasizing assault on our enshrined democratic system of government. Much has been said and written concerning this disgraceful, twice-impeached, President who, thereafter, as an ordinary civilian, has been the subject of multiple criminal indictments, Federal and State, for crimes including, the illegal use of campaign funds, voter interference, bribes and conspiracy, the misuse of campaign funds to pay-off and keep silent, porn star prostitutes with whom he has had adulterous commerce, solicitation of falsified voting results, extortion, the creation of the classically autocratic, “Big Lie” by autocratically, denying the results of a verified, National Election and, thereafter, seditiously, incurring the direct and proximate responsibility for the  January 6 insurrection against Washington, by a right-wing, Trump loyal, anti-democratic mob.

The unexpected elevation to the Oval Office, of Donald J. Trump, seemed to effect a resurrection and catalyzing of the active participation of the Nation’s vast horde of inadequately educated, disaffected and disgruntled citizens, historically, disinterested in civic and governmental affairs. Such individuals conceivably, identified with the aberrant, faux arrogant, and nuanced persona of Trump and became his loyal acolytes. Trump’s demonstrable lack of capability to function as President, and, presumably, his racial and ethnic prejudices evidently were compatible with the populist persona.

Trump, following the classic, autocratic, field manual, attacked the election process, the legitimate media, and, indeed, the societally, existential, concept of “truth.” In its stead, as an active practitioner of serial mendacity, he construed the tactically useful, concept of “alternate facts.” Additionally, he chose to designate specific racial and ethnic groups as un-American, derogated education and scientific research, abused and debased women, confused and strained America’s international relationships, withdrew from responsible environmental and mutually defensive treaties. Moreover, his advertised lack of moral compass, embarrassingly, even exceeded his colossal ignorance.

Correspondingly, there developed a stark divisiveness between the mainstream American citizen and the large number of citizens, who had, toxically, become devotees of the undemocratic, authoritarian, and immoral Trump cult. This transmogrification saw the increasing number of right-wing Christian militias, the decreased respect for the civil rights of minority Americans, including police abuse and homicide against minorities, minority voter interference, unjust treatment and abuse of transgender Americans,  book and curriculum censorship, an exponential increase in unregistered and unlimited,  gun ownership and the consequent mass murder of innocent school children. The unified and dedicated American citizen, as extant, since the end of World War Two, remains in an understandable, state of dread, concerning the survival of his rare and precious, democratic republic.

It is hoped that the democratic vote of the traditional, American citizen, will be the effective cure for the onset of the undemocratic, right-wing White, Christian pandemic of our Nation.

We would designate the current period of National history, as, “The Period of Populist Challenge,” and look optimistically, to the relevant naming of the forthcoming period, “The Period of National Accommodation.”

* Title redux


Blogpost # 903         AWOKEN

As a brief respite, or “breath of fresh air,” from the atmospheric pollution of current storm of Donald Trump indictments, we would offer a recalled experience, from early life. The subject event was especially memorable, as a startling, empirical, demonstration of a phenomenon, previously, known, but not empirically, experienced.

 Let us begin with our background prior to such unique and enlightening event. At the age of 23, having graduated from college and law school, it was our desire to start our career as soon as possible. There was a war in existence and a military draft. Under a Federal Statute, passed at the time, one could satisfy his military obligation, by securing admission into his State’s National Guard, and thereby, only be required to perform active duty with the army for a period of six months, and completing, its six required years of membership, inclusive, only, of training for two weeks each summer, plus one meeting per week. After being admitted to a company of the New York National Guard, we were shortly thereafter, shipped out to perform the mandatory, six months active service with the Army. There, following the required four weeks of Basic Training, we were sent to Aberdeen Training Grounds, in Maryland, for the balance of our six-month active service.

It was during our period of service at Aberdeen Training Grounds, that the scenario, giving rise to the narrative and the thematic purpose of this writing took place.  However, for clarity of purpose and context, we must briefly stop to furnish a few relevant observations.

For the period, inclusive of our Junior High School and High School, attendance, perhaps ten years, our family resided in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, an area populated by working-class white and black citizens. It cannot be said that the venue was free of any racial tensions, but, generally, interaction between residents was ordinarily, peaceful, if not exemplary. We, and presumably, most of our black neighbors, were, in general, accommodated to living in a mixed-color, varied ethnic neighborhood. Over the years, we were cognizant of the National problems of racial strife, but our experiences of such conflict were limited. White and black students attended class, taught by white and some black teachers, black and white boys played sports (especially, half-court basketball), and, as recalled, racial tensions were more implicit than publicly demonstrated. Among our closest friends was a black youngster, Joseph Glencamp, who, in our household, was assigned the [affectionate, (Yiddish]) name of “Yussie.” In brief, we were, certainly, aware of the egregious racial prejudice, practiced against black Americans, especially in the “South,” but, in our young, residential life, saw little of its overt dynamics.

I would often be granted weekend passes and would travel home by bus. The bus stop just outside of the military installation was adjacent to an old-fashioned diner. On the weekend in question, I was quite early and so I stopped for coffee and a slice of apple pie at the long counter of the diner. I do not have the time or energy to distinguish Army coffee from regular diner coffee; let us just say that if Army coffee was any worse, it would legally, have to contain a “hazmat” warning.

I was enjoying the coffee and pie when a young soldier, no doubt also, somewhat, early for the bus and sat in the next stool. We nodded a brief hello. He was, like us, wearing the Army dress uniform with a military patch indicating New York, and I assume, awaiting the same bus. The only difference was that he was black. He asked what I was having and I replied that it was apple pie. He smiled and asked the man at the counter for the same thing. The next thing was silence and angry glares emanating from the men sitting to our right along the counter. Frankly, we were both, equally puzzled.

Finally, the counterman came over and said to the new (black) arrival, “Look, if you want coffee, I will give it to you in a paper cup, but you have to drink it outside.” He left and I, naively, was still confused, until the angry glares of the other (white) diners, communicated their hateful prejudice to me. I was at first, confused, then nervously, and uncomfortably, finished my pie and coffee, paid and disgustedly, left.

To this day, I, painfully regret, not walking out with my fellow American and brother –in arms and instead, finished my snack. The counterman, when I paid my check said “Look, buddy, it makes no difference to me but I don’t want to lose my customers,”

I was then, uncomfortably, rendered, “awoke.”


Blogpost # 902      ON CHICKENS, EGGS, AND CHUNKY BARS: Redux

We will candidly confess to an unremitting sense of frustration, each time the mundane expression, “It’s a chicken-egg problem,” is used to describe an issue that is conveniently, relegated, by some speaker or writer, to the category of empirically, unanswerable. But, in order not to get ahead of ourselves, we would, initially, furnish our thematic narrative.

At the relevant time, we were young students at Thomas Jefferson High School (East New York, Brooklyn). Although the student body was mixed, it was amply, represented by first-generation offspring of Eastern European immigrants. The latter described students,, coming from homes still embodying an Old World, Eastern European, context, were commonly, desirous of speeding-  up the natural, gradual metamorphosis to an acceptably, modern and identifiable, “New World,” persona.

One such described, student, was Izzy Springer (fictitious name), who had boasted, that, in record time, he had, purportedly, attained the goal of fully, mastering the desired, (and, normally, gradual and experiential) journey to societal, Americanization. Izzy was the sort of personality, who, without question,  purported to know all there was to be known, which facts were accurate and those which were not, and which matters were knowable and those which were beyond human comprehension; the latter category, designated, by his recent, scholastically, adopted word, as “unfathomable.”

We confess that we would, ordinarily, try, as possible, to avoid the assertively, boastful company of the arrogant and “know-it-all,” Izzy, but there were times, in the circumscribed, high school environment, when encounters were inevitable. Izzy, as it happens, was in our “Advanced Biology” class, and on the eventful morning, (the setting for this brief writing) the classroom subject was on the subject of “Evolution” but with especial emphasis given to the emergence of the sentient, animal, viz., Homo sapiens. The teacher led an enlightening discussion on the subject of humankind’s evolved brain and its consequent ability to problem-solve by the applied use of reason. The day’s homework assignment was to write a 300-word essay on Early Man’s use of reason to solve his problems of survival.

As class let out, Izzy excitedly, approached us, as he, passionately, put it, to discuss the teacher’s morning’s lecture, on Man’s capability of reason. We could not avoid, what, predictably, would be an arrogant critique, from our “Mr. Know it All.” The eminent “sage,” Izzy, seemed to have misconstrued and therefore, criticized, the teacher’s remarks, concerning the utility of Man’s capacity to reason, as (erroneously) declaring that Homo sapiens, thus gifted by Evolution, with an advanced brain, was capable of the solution of “any” presenting problem. We did not share in his erroneous recollection, but rather understood the teacher, instead, to have referred to Man’s capability to solve his daily, existential problems such as food gathering, defense against the elements and his later ability to engage in mutual, societal cooperation. However, in order to confront Izzy, the purported, “sage,” we, tongue-in-cheek, and provokingly, asked him for an example of a problem regarding which Man’s reason is incapable to solve.  Izzy, supremely, confident in his forthcoming response, initially, recited, as stakes for the challenge, the otherworldly, munificent prize of two (2) “Chunky Bars.”  

Before proceeding further with the subject narrative, we would like to enlighten the contemporary, reader as to the empirical context and esteemed value, of said proposed stakes, in 1954, East New York, Brooklyn, to the young, economically, challenged, denizens of that milieu. The individual “Chunky Bar,” was a chocolate square, approximately, 1.5 inches square, (about 3 to 4, judicious bites) infused with nuts and raisins, and “expensively,” priced at ten cents each (the then contemporary cost of a one-way train or trolley trip or a public phone call) and, with a determined value to the resident, Brooklyn youngster, of an Olympic Gold Medal. This wager, it is to be, especially noted, entailed no less than two (2) of these rarefied, albeit, eatable, trophies,  Izzy, smiling and highly confident of easily, winning this magnificent prize, confidently and gleefully, recited the thematic, “unfathomable,” dilemma, viz., “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Recalling the morning’s lesson on the dynamics of Natural Evolution, and, after applying a moment of rudimentary logic, we responded, “The egg.” Izzy, upon hearing such answer, and jubilantly, anticipating the easy acquisition of the invaluable prize, in fact, anticipating the taste responded, with a smirk, demanded, “Oh yeah, well where did the egg come from?” His face, visibly, fell as we responded, “The egg was laid by the immediate, evolutionary predecessor of the chicken; that egg, when hatched, was, thereafter, evolution’s first known, chicken.

Despite the passage of multiple decades, we can still recall the victorious, taste of the magnificent Chunky Bars, but, to this day, frustratingly, continue to ponder two questions, (1) why has no one else logically, solved this so-called enigma? and/or, (2) why we have, at this late date, yet to be accorded historic recognition, for its solution [at 15 years of age]?