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Friday, Aug 22nd

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Pains & Fears, Lessons & Gifts

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The thing about unexpected lessons is that you never know what it is you'll learn, or that you had anything at all to learn in the first place.

In a quintzillion years, I never thought I would say this, but Donald Rumsfeld had a point, albeit a circuitous one, when he reeled off his screed about known knowns and unknown unknowns, and so forth, through every last permutation, down to the potentially uncertain but likely quite improbably unknown, but still completely possible, percentagewise, knowns. Or something.

Lessons are difficult, even if you're open and ready for them, and they involve small-beans issues like going to a different movie than you'd planned, or having to break down and order an alien beer or pop when your fav has been pumped dry at Drac's Stake-N-Steak or Burger Queen or Pasta Palace or whatever.

Much, much more seriously now:  If you think such teaching moments and learning opportunities -- as we currently call Big Windows of Life To Go Look Out Of And See Something New -- are tough, imagine what the lessons are like when they rip your heart out.

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Put Your Lips Together and Blow

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My Muse, lately, has been feisty, haughty, and downright bumptious.  Churlish and surly, too, but that is surely an outgrowth of my ignoring it as much as possible.  It hates that.  Kicks up a fuss something fierce.

It's been unavoidable, though.  It's yard work season.  Out here in the country-ish places, Nature never stops trying to take back the small encampment it's allowed us for an assortment of the old, small, odd-shaped buildings we call home -- a place where all of the structures and sheds compete against one another to see which one can return its raw materials and minerals to the earth firstest with the mostest.

During this time of year, before the showers cease and the hot weather sets in, slowing the Leaping Green Growth Spurts hereabouts, I am part person and part mule.  Writing and scribbling and helping words jump through any pedantic hoops must wait.  My muse is much more amused in the cold and rainy months, when I am inside, and where keeping the pellet stove comfy, cleaned, nourished and well-fed is all at once a vocation, an avocation, and a spectator sport.

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It takes a sharp wooden stake

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The new unemployment claims reported on last week were at a seven year low, the report for this week is up again close to the moving average, but overall it's not bad news for the economy. We will probably see more people leaving the workforce now that they don't need to stay with the company that provides them health insurance, and this should be reflected in a falling unemployment rate. Worker mobility should improve from this 'portability' aspect of ObamaCare, and this could result in fewer people being laid off since workers are able leave a company for another job rather than hanging on until the ax falls.

 

In theory, we should see an upturn in people creating their own business since they don't need to worry about finding health insurance. There is, however, the problem that if a person is a college graduate her or she is likely be carrying a large student debt load and this hampers entrepreneurship. Unless you simply take Mitt Romney's advice and borrow the money from your father to get started,  - it worked great for him.

 

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Who Goes There - Friend or Faux?

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Not counting the things that looked like mushed M&M's or maybe some cushion-dried salsa chunks, the best I've ever done is a couple of hard-shell taco divots, a remote control for an oscillating fan, enough unpopped popcorn kernels for a hamster's tea break, a ripped bus transfer, half a poker chip, a pizza crust that could double as a drywall hammer, two wallet-pocket buttons, the keeper-part of ticket stub for a 1993 charity auction, and a dollar-seventeen in change.

Talk about being outclassed.  Three roommates in northern New York state found $40,000 in their couch.  The one they bought.  Second-hand.  For twenty bucks.

It was a major oops.  The daughter sold it, when her mom was in the hospital for a surgery.   But, it all got straightened out.  The roommates tracked down the original owner somehow, maybe through the charity shop that had sold them the couch, and then, the original owner and the original cash were all restored to original condition.  And they all lived originally, and happily, ever after.

Yes:  Good works were done, a smidge of confidence was restored to the bucket of human nature, and the roommates received a thousand bucks for their effort -- a profit of $980, one could say, providing one wanted to focus on the upsides here.

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Letter From Summersville Hospital

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by BOB KINCAID, co-founder of The Head On Radio Network (HORN)\

My Dear Fellow Americans

Sitting here in a hospital room in Summersville, West Virginia waiting to find out if a combination of genetic Calvinism, environmental toxins and my own mistakes have finally caught up with me, I heard playing on my roommate’s television an advertisement for some politician whom the announcer told me would “go to Washington and fight against Obamacare.” I am furious at a time when I probably shouldn’t be, but I may as well make the best of it.

Seldom do I pause to answer in writing the mad, hateful ravings of a right-wing, self-absorbed, Republican candidate for elected office; for if I did, I would never be able to get to the microphone to do it via radio every night. But since the question of healthcare is a matter of importance to Americans of good will across this once-great nation, and since I’m sitting in a hospital bed instead of behind the mic anyway, I feel compelled.

I think I should explain why I am here in Summersville, since so many Republicans, Tea Partiers, Birchers, and Libertarians have wasted so much time, energy, good will and MONEY to keep me from being here.

I am here because it has been made possible for me to be here. Men and women across this country have marched, pled, bled and died for me to be here. Forty thousand uninsured Americans died every year before enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Politicians have paid with their careers, thrown out of office by infuriated, unintelligent, frenzied citizens played like a whorehouse piano by the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, the Republican National Committee and right-wing talk radio goons like the Junkie Rush Limbaugh.

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KISSS: Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling

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Time to add another "S" to that old acronym, about Keeping It Simple, Stupid:  The updated version is Keep It Simple, Stop Struggling.

It's advice that the Brazilian police are handing around to European and American tourists who are in town for the World Cup.  The actual tip is closer to "do not react, scream, or argue," and is meant to help newbies to the country avoid a popular kind of robbery in which being murdered is the farewell thank-you gift from muggers.

The police are being realistic.  Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world, so says the United Nations, at more than 25 per 100,000.  (This number, obviously, does not include the hectares of rain forest in Brazil routinely strangled, bulldozed, and cremated, nor does it include the amount of oxygen-producing capacity murdered daily.)

Police are concerned tourists from abroad do not usually experience the joys of robbery, and so, need to be counseled on their manners, in order to avoid latrocinios -- the aforementioned keepsake memento of death following one's souvenir stick-up.

* * * * *

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I've Always Liked Chris Hedges

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Yeah -- except for that time back in 2008 when he said atheists were as dangerous as Christian fundamentalists. Remember?

http://www.salon.com/2008/03/13/chris_hedges/

But what the hell  --  Everybody blows their wheels every now and again. I mean he earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School so we know he spent a lot of time, and allocated a lot of head space, to the study of gibberish. It was only natural some of that lunacy leaked out. But after The Big Blowout I guess he called the mental health department of Triple A and got back on the road again.

His latest essay, We're Losing the Last Shreds of Legal Rights to Protect Ourselves from Oligarchy,

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/were-post-constitutional-era

is another example of great Chris Hedges writing. But he consistently has a problem with using the correct tenses of verbs. He insists on using the present or future tense when he should be using the past tense.

We’re not losing … we’ve lost.

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