Friday, January 20, 2017

everything and its price


"If we don't own responsibility (for the problem of displaced workers), it's only going to get bigger," Procter & Gamble (PG.N) Chief Executive David Taylor said.
The scope of the employment risk from what the WEF calls the "fourth industrial revolution" which "blurs the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres" is unclear.
A University of Oxford study in 2013 said nearly half of U.S. jobs were at risk, while in 2015 Forrester Research predicted a net loss of only 7 percent by 2025, as some lost jobs will be replaced with new ones.
Forrester predicts that by 2019, one-quarter of all job tasks will be offloaded to software robots, physical robots, or customer self-service automation.
Even the corner office may not be safe.
On the very day (today) Donald Trump is scheduled to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, comes this piece from Reuters ... automation is poised to take the jobs Trump has promised to restore. Various Republicans are sucking up to Trump and his flamboyent, self-centered ways. Nor do Democrats want to be kept from the trough.

But the jobs, dignity and honor?





the numbers that count

Passed along in a perfect e-mail:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

penises, beware!!!

An Instagram account depicting nipples in extreme closeup aims to topple sexist double standards in censorship on social media.
Genderless Nipples shares closeup images of nipples taken at such proximity, it is difficult – if not impossible – to tell whether they are male or female. After just 70 posts in six weeks, the account has close to 50,000 followers on Instagram.
Instagram is notoriously rigorous in removing images of women’s bare breasts, prompting the #FreeTheNipple campaign ongoing since 2012.
You mean?! You mean?! Do you actually mean that if I wait long enough, this up-to-date means of blissful communication will actually reveal a naked human being??????

Like the insertion of cuss words, naked body parts have been gaining sway in small screen drama. Breasts -- which is to say female breasts -- are almost a sine qua non these days. Man tits have always been OK. But what I'm waiting for is the break-out Moment of the Pecker ... together with the show, "Full, frontal hard-on ...."

Naked people ... uh, haven't we been here before?



being an elephant ... maybe

If you were an elephant (Guardian)…

Why do elephants seek out other elephants? Not primarily for sex, or for an extra arsenal of receptors to pick up the scent of poachers, or because they assume that the others will have found particularly nutritious food, but because they like other elephants.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

no more columns



The most recent Christmas season took on a particular glow this year.

First, Donald Trump, a man who seemed determined at every turn to display his selfishness, was going head-to-head both with Santa Claus -- a guy I like -- and Jesus Christ -- a guy a lot of people claim to like. Questions abounded: Would the tempestuous Trump fire Santa? And if not Santa, how about Jesus?

Second: Would Donald Trump actually become a president of the United States -- a job spoken of in well-modulated tones reserved for what was once the most powerful and magnetic country in the world? The answer seemed to be 'yes,' and yet this was a man who spoke in explosive tweets and reversed course frequently.

And third: On the day after Christmas, I found myself, at 76, in one of those ergonomically-praiseworthy and passenger-dubious beds reserved for heart/lung patients at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. And it was from that perch that I was given a chance to see America sold out in one way or another.

Drugs, of course, warmed my medicinal stew. I saw things from behind the lenses of opaque whites, pale blues, an occasional red ... you know, the pill repertoire. It was clear that the Republicans would do what they could to dismantle health care in America while pretending like Pinnochio's nose to offer an honest replacement. Victory without effort is so much easier than what was once called "sweat.".

And then, floating up in this hospital miasma was the announcement that Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus would close up shop come May. In an era of 141 characters and Tweet mentalities and Twitter presidents, it all seemed appropriate: The world powers gathered in Davos to carve up the financial pie: Trump was serving; China was buying.

It was time to lie back and relax. Would there be a pill for all this? Sure.

I do wonder a bit if those who got sick to death of the sissy liberals will remember who it was who left them in their second pile of smug and uncaring shit.

.....

About 50 years ago, my first publicly published piece was in the Gazette. Et puis, the last. Too frothy. Too energetic.

No more columns.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

kick adam in the ass

As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential reins in the U.S. and thence to auction off the rest of the U.S., China seems poised to make its move and buy the store out.  Eeeeee-haw, there's gold in them-thar hills and if Donald gets his cut, everything will be fine.

It is hard to imagine what Trump might do after Jan. 20 when he is scheduled to be inaugurated. Running a country is only as fun as proving you can do it.

But China takes a long view of things and may be the perfect customer for Trump and his fire-sale.
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) -- China is taking the world's most elite annual gathering by storm.
President Xi Jinping leads a Chinese delegation of over 100 officials and scores of business executives attending the World Economic Forum, embodying a tectonic shift at an event that started nearly a half-century ago among Europeans and Americans.
Xi's opening plenary address Tuesday to political and business leaders is shaping up as perhaps the highlight both of this year's WEF and Xi's one-country European visit to ultra-stable and chronically neutral Switzerland.
"The two countries will strive to maintain world peace and stability, promote common development and jointly maintain a global trade system which is open and tolerant," Xi told reporters at a joint briefing with Swiss President Doris Leuthard on Monday. "We will push global governance toward a fairer and more reasonable direction."


Trump auctions America ... or anyway that's my guess

As Donald Trump prepares to take the presidential reins in the U.S. and thence to auction off the rest of the U.S., China seems poised to make its move and buy the store out.  Eeeeee-haw, there's gold in them-thar hills and if Donald gets his cut, everything will be fine.

It is hard to imagine what Trump might do after Jan. 20 when he is scheduled to be inaugurated. Running a country is only as fun as proving you can do it.

But China takes a long view of things and may be the perfect customer for Trump and his fire-sale.
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) -- China is taking the world's most elite annual gathering by storm.
President Xi Jinping leads a Chinese delegation of over 100 officials and scores of business executives attending the World Economic Forum, embodying a tectonic shift at an event that started nearly a half-century ago among Europeans and Americans.
Xi's opening plenary address Tuesday to political and business leaders is shaping up as perhaps the highlight both of this year's WEF and Xi's one-country European visit to ultra-stable and chronically neutral Switzerland.
"The two countries will strive to maintain world peace and stability, promote common development and jointly maintain a global trade system which is open and tolerant," Xi told reporters at a joint briefing with Swiss President Doris Leuthard on Monday. "We will push global governance toward a fairer and more reasonable direction."


Friday, January 13, 2017

synchronous fireflies

Although there are about 2,000 species of fireflies in the world, synchronous fireflies ­– ones that can coordinate their flash patterns ­– exist in just a handful of places on Earth. And to see their most dramatic light display in the western hemisphere, you’ll need to head to the US, to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

mass murderer's complaints heard



SKIEN, Norway (AP) -- Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik told a panel of judges Thursday that his solitary confinement in prison had deeply damaged him and made him even more radical in his neo-Nazi beliefs.
Dressed in a black suit, the right-wing extremist who killed 77 people in a 2011 bomb attack and shooting spoke coherently and without emotion as he addressed the panel considering if his isolation is inhumane....
Breivik, 37, was speaking during a hearing at the high-security prison in southern Norway where he is serving a 21-year sentence and has been in solitary confinement since 2012.
The government is appealing a lower court ruling that held his constant segregation was degrading and violated European human rights standards.


white flag era

I am trying -- seriously trying -- to read the news and keep up with a press doing what it can to keep up with almost-president of the United States, Donald Trump. [Here's one example] A recent stay in the hospital for heart irregularities hardly seems an adequate excuse for the lack of understanding I have found and the exhaustion I feel.

Honest to god -- what the fuck is going on? Will someone shoot this mutt and put him out of my misery? I don't understand prolonged narcissism (Trump) and more, really can't find the energy to parse it. I guess I will rest my head on the pillow of the word
CLUSTERFUCK.
Alternatively, I give up. Trump hates my country, hates its roots, hates its honor ... I hope there's beer in the fridge. I hope some idiot thinks s/he can parse it all and, having parsed, extract some sense and a modicum of affection.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

myopia writ large


... while approximately two-thirds of Americans believe that robots will inevitably perform most of the work currently done by human beings during the next 50 years, about 80% also believe their current jobs will either “definitely” or “probably” exist in their current form within the same timeframe.
I wonder if anyone else is as sick as I am of the cutsy-wootsy conformities of what are currently called "robots" when it comes to previously-human chores. If it looks like Pac-Man, does losing a job become any more palatable?

Second question: Will robots put Donald Trump out of a job?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

coming of age


Woo-hoo young women in Tokyo celebrate a coming-of-age day.


  • The annual holiday marks teenagers turning 20 and so reaching official adulthood in the country
  •  It celebrated on the second Monday of the year in ceremonies across Japan - from the mountains to the coast
  • Young people attend ceremonies in local town halls and offices, with parties afterwards for family and friends
  • The age of 20 is significant in Japan because that's the age at which it becomes legal to drink, smoke and vote.



Saturday, January 7, 2017

in the interim .....

In  the meantime....

In the time between going to the hospital, having death more or less laid out again as a not-terribly exciting option, and regaining a sluggish reconnect as Donald Trump edges up on the Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration....

My younger son moves closer towards a deployment in a Middle East where, yet again, the once-great United States, has not seen fit to declare a state of war that nevertheless pop-pop-pop's from the barrels of weapons sold largely by the USA.

My middle son sprained his ankle and hobbles around the house. My wife does the heavy lifting, from keeping medical tabs to ... to ... to....

Other swaths and hitches of organization. Is anything organized any more? Hospitals, I suppose, are organized though fewer people seem to get the care


In the meantime, I notice that it is becoming acceptable for women to be fat ... thick ankles ... waist lines that really do damage to the plumping female form. It's probably just my bias .... everyone loud and shiny-bright-but-largely-stupid....

Donald Trump instills the poetry: "This is is the way the world will end/ This is the way the world will end/ This is the way the world will end/ Not with a bang but a whimper." And in the meantime I no longer have what it takes to look things up, to double-check

The bourgeois, I-own-it minds are on the tube. Their lack of imagination is frightening.

There are more tits on tv and more pot/marijuana (drug world has not yet settled ) and pretty soon moderation -- the use of an expletive other than "fuck" -- is likely to become chic.

It would be nice if something were sassy/classy instead of just brittle and loud

I don't know what this post is about .... I imagine I'll add to it.
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Here's a morning routine for you. After the alarm on your smartphone goes off, it's time to roll out of your "smart" bed and give your hair a good run through with your app-connected brush. Don't forget to use your smart toothbrush in front of your smart mirror. After that, your smart pillbox will remind you to take your medication. And remember to put on your smart jeans, so they can give you directions while you leave your phone in the pocket. Sound like a typical morning? Tech companies at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas would like it to be. 
[BBC] The largest shipment of US brigades since the fall of the Soviet Union is arriving in northern Germany.
The first of the 87 tanks and 144 military vehicles were being unloaded in the port of Bremerhaven on Friday.
The equipment and 3,500 US troops are to be deployed along Nato's eastern frontier. The deployment aims to allay worries of potential Russian aggression in eastern Europe.
However, some fear the large number will exacerbate tensions with Moscow.

Friday, January 6, 2017

parkour death

An "inspirational" British free runner has died after a "train accident" on the Paris Metro.
Nye Frankie Newman, from Guildford in Surrey, died on 1 January, his parkour group said.
The 17-year-old was a keen participant of the sport, in which people climb and jump over obstacles and buildings.
Luke Stones, a fellow member of the Brewman parkour group, rejected suggestions Mr Newman had been "train-surfing" at the time of his death.
The cause of Mr Newman's death is not yet known.

photos from the Guardian

Sensible nonsense, somehow:

Neville has travelled from Scotland to Pittsburgh, Helmand and beyond, documenting humanity with a clarity of purpose defined by social responsibility

Thursday, January 5, 2017

military uniform rules eased

Look the same, shoot the same, bleed the same .... fashion the same.

[Reuters] -- The U.S. Army has taken new steps to make it easier for Sikhs, Muslims and other religious minorities to obtain approval to dress and groom themselves according to their religious customs while serving in the military, a spokesman said on Thursday.
Army Secretary Eric Fanning, in a memorandum signed this week, revised the uniform policy to set appearance standards for people seeking religious accommodations to wear beards, turbans and head scarfs.
The new rules also enable brigade-level commanders to approve the religious accommodations, an authority that previously rested with the Army secretary. Denial of a religious accommodation may be appealed as high as the Army secretary.

unyielding but fair ... WTF

Step by step I do what I can to return to the 'rational' and quasi-rational land of sanity last seen before I entered the heart-healing health world a couple of weeks back.

But by licks and trips, I am stymied and, like the latter-day elderly person who has "fallen and I can't get up," I have fallen, can't get up and more than anything, don't give a shit about getting up. What, for example does the phrase, "an unyielding but fair-minded conservative" [Jeff Sessions] mean? Seriously ... conservative, liberal, what does it mean? A fair-minded person who is unyielding? Will someone parse that for me .... or ... no, wait, parse it for someone else. It is ludicrous no matter what the starting point.

This is "outside" its own mind description ... or, if it's not, then the world of impending Walmart feudalism has taken a large step forward. 

I am tired, I guess. I hesitate to say the world has gone mad. I hesitate to say that I have gone mad. I hope there is a good sit-com TV show in the offing.

OK ... Bush and cohorts get the money ... couldn't we do something nice for each other? What a wuss I am become.

worth coming back for

Some things I think are worth coming back for and among them, as I fished around for bits and pieces of touchstone to come back to after the health-care hazies and crazies was
THIS

I wonder if anyone else feels that really you should find a thing or two worth dying for. Not that the opportunity to die will be given, but just the knowledge that as compromises go, this is a pretty good one. It has fuck-all to do with taste ... it's just that this something or other swabs your decks and issues its own A-A-A-A-M-M-M-M-E-E-E-E-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N-N!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

welcome home

Welcome home card that seemed to  cover the bases:












Saturday, December 31, 2016

retrurn from the hospital

On Dec. 19, 2016, I checked into the local hospital sporting flu and heart problems and just today was released from a  durance vile. There were hallucinations that included zillions of pencil-prick ants; there were colors that bore in on eachoher like yellow and white water colors .... there was sfuff and uncomfortable beds passing for ever-so- expedient ... ... everyone seemed to want to make me feel better. I missed the ones I actually believed

Back home now. Tired, frazzled.. My wife and sons bore the brunt.  Dying didn't much matter ... or it didn't seem to. And night of sane sleep wouldn't hurt.

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Jingle Bells" in Mongolia

A bout of physical bumpiness saw Christmas come and go, though this perky jingle, passed along in email, added a little spice:


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

sick day & Rachel Maddow

A sick day and simultaneously one on which Rachel Maddow's straight and searing analysis was passed along ... nothing serious, of course, just the sale of the United States to Exxon. I have to admit it -- the woman leaves me gasping as she connects to dots no one else seems willing to connect.


schlocky column for the month



Here are some of the columns I did not write in 2016 – a kind of stocking-stuffer of ideas I was too research-averse to attack and parse and issue an opinion about.

-- Not long ago, as is her occasional wont, Janet sent along the following pithy observation penned by her late husband, science writer Isaac Asimov:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always had been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’ ”
Strange how cozy and confirmed the mind can feel when hearing what democracy is not and yet how stymied (and loud) it can become when asked to nail down what it is.

-- Walk into any supermarket and check out the tomatoes. The uniform redness and roundness are a sight to behold. But are these things tomatoes or are they really some better-living-through chemistry, a thick-skinned, largely juiceless fruit that can be harvested by a machine that will reduce the need for manual labor?
As a kid, I can remember walking through tomato patches, plucking an irregularly-shaped-and-colored fruit off the vine, taking a bite and having the juice dribble down my chin.

-- Today’s tomatoes remind me a bit of the 2-by-4s sold in lumber yards but don’t measure 2-by-4 ... or the Defense Department that lost the courage to label itself the Department of War ... or the life-insurance policy that rests squarely on the ability to drop dead.

-- Funeral homes and doctors both seem to be in businesses that confer upon them the right to call me by my first name. How did this happen?
My mother always taught me that until otherwise instructed, Mr., Mrs., Miss, Ms. and whatever other polite prefix is popular these days was a way to depict respect and a warranted distance. And that includes “doctor.”

-- On the internet, there is an “algorithm” (code) that allows the site to remember my interests in the past and serve up more of the same. This coding magic is granted a round of applause.
But when I head to one of a number of news sites that I read daily, I most emphatically do not want more of the same or even something that is similar. That’s not the nature of news.
More important, this algorithmic magic means that whatever anyone’s interest might be, they are in some measure confined to their interest bubble and that as time passes, that bubble gets smaller and smaller.
Put politely, individuals become “intellectually challenged.” Put directly, more of the same is likely to make people “stupid.”

-- “Multi-tasking” is a word used by those who wish the drones of any given business will produce more in the same amount of time. It’s a money-maker to the extent that it is real.
The problem is that it is not real and anyone who says it is is either greedy or lying or possibly both. Human beings do one thing at a time and a study in Texas showed that shifting back and forth from one topic to the next produced less efficient results and, into the bargain, tended to depress the person attempting it.
Those who say, “We need someone capable of multi-tasking” are simply saying they want more money and less work for themselves.

-- Several weeks ago, a 300-plus-pound mechanical engineer who had played Santa over the better part of a decade was called to a Tennessee hospital where a 5-year-old boy was dying and wanted to see Santa.
There was no time for Eric Schmitt-Matzen to don more than his Santa suspenders and adjust his own, very real, girth When he got to the hospital, Schmitt-Matzen, 60, said he asked family members to remain outside the room if they were going to break down in tears. “The little guys and girls have a hard time fathoming the whole concept of death, but they know Christmas and they know they have a lot of fun,” he said.
“When I walked in, he was laying there, so weak it looked like he was ready to fall asleep,’’ Schmitt-Matzen told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “I sat down on his bed and asked, ‘Say, what’s this I hear about you’re gonna miss Christmas? There’s no way you can miss Christmas. Why, you’re my No. 1 elf.’ ”
After Schmitt-Matzen assured him that he was passing on to a better place, the boy gave Santa a hug and asked a final question: “Santa, can you help me?”
“I wrapped my arms around him,” Schmitt-Matzen recalled. “Before I could say anything, he died right there. I let him stay, just kept hugging and holding on to him.”

And that’s what I want for Christmas – the courage and kindness and generosity that the Schmitt-Matzens of this world can provide.


Adam Fisher, of Northampton, is a regular contributor. He can be reached at genkakukigen@aol.com.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

a psychiatric take on Donald Trump

Passed along in email:

3 Professors Of Psychiatry
Ask President Obama To Conduct
‘A Full Medical And Neuropsychiatric Evaluation’

Guardian photo competition

The gorgeous little children of the Hamar tribe in southern Ethiopia were only too happy to make this circle of feet for me, laughing their heads off all the time. MICK RYAN, JUDGE: Maybe a set-up shot, but many are. The most poignant memories of a trip often aren’t the grand vistas or the glorious sunrises and sunsets, but the smallest details. These children sitting in a circle and this lovely composition of just their toes, feet and legs, says so much. You decide what.   
I like this, but I'm not sure why or even that I think it is especially a "winner." Perhaps it is somehow peaceful. I honestly don't know.

Monday, December 19, 2016

"Alice's Restaurant" ... again

Others may find it dated and out of synch, but I ran into it again today and found that I enjoyed the smiles and determination of another era:


water, water everywhere...

Yesterday, I whipped out a newspaper column that focused on the columns I had not written in 2016. It was the best I could manage. Where have all the ideas -- and more important the succulence with which I could imbue them -- gone? I feel like one of those p.r. pix for global warming ... the polar bear standing on a great slab of broken-away ice. Nothing but water in all directions. I can't seem to find the caring and the oomph.

Not that I begrudge anyone else their cares. It's just that I can't seem to find them any more. The importance, the meaning, the associations and hook-ups -- all of it has a slightly vapid feel: Do I really need to follow that train of thought? Why? Isn't the richness rich enough without investing it with richness?

There was a time when I would lullaby myself to sleep with one thought-weaving or another -- some spiritual or sociological skein perhaps -- but now I drop of the cliff without any humming necessary. Only god can pray to god, so it seems sensible/inescapable just to let the prayers be spoken without my lookit-me additions.

It's kind of strange and vaguely lonely, but it seems to be the way of things.

Once, when I was acting as an intermediary between a Smith College student and my mother whom the student wished to interview about one of my mother's novels, I asked my mother how she felt about the interview. My mother was hard of hearing and it was a long time since she had written and won an Edgar for "The Horizontal Man," a book many considered a roman à clef about the college. When I asked my mother about the interview, I thought she might play the age card as she declined. Instead, she took another tack: "I can't really remember what it was about," she said simply. She knew she had written it. She knew it enjoyed a small patch of literary sunlight. But ... well ... what was the fuss about?... I can't quite remember.

A column should bear some stamp of "importance" or "meaning" or "relevance," right? But now there is more water and less ice. An odd kettle of fish.

ambrosia

At 8:30, the first sip of morning coffee
Is as good as it is at 4:30.
But at 4:30,
It's better.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Obama takes some Middle East responsibility

I suppose there are those who view U.S. President Barack Obama as another spin-doctor -- a wheedler and a conniver looking to pass the blame buck and shelter from the fallout of an anguished world. And no doubt there's an element of truth to the critique. Like speaking of a rich man, "No rich man ever got that way by being nice."

But I honestly cannot think of another (wo)man in power who might even skirt the responsibility for the slaughter and sorrow in Syria ... and most notably of late, Aleppo. If it's a lie, I think it is a better lie than most, not that those who are suffering give much of a rat-fuck.


Saturday, December 17, 2016