Thursday, Mar 30th

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Previews of Coming Distractions

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We've seen the movies before, enough to drive us to distraction:  the slow takeover of power by lunatics, the sleeping citizenry unaware their country has been stolen and lost, the bad guys who refuse to be shamed and who will stop at nothing until they own absolutely everything...

Somehow, even though the movies are always the same -- exploits sexed up with explosions, topped-off with exploited sex bombs, and exploding F-bombs -- they always manage to make the Previews of Coming Attractions look novel enough.

How'd they do that -- sleight of hand?  Mass hypnosis from politicians?  Calm mesmerizing via pollsters?  Corporate marketing magic?  Or, are we just being baffled with more of the same, steaming bat guano, slung at us, hot and fast, right past us, before we know what happened, out at home plate, called on sliders?

Well, in a word:  Yes.


Ghosts All Aboard the Crazy Train

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If you think your imagination on just how weird things can get is being stretched pretty thin these days, and that your ability to remain sane is approaching the point of no return, welcome aboard the Crazy Train!  We are haunted here by the Ghosts of Sanity Long Since Passed.

In this new, devolved phase of our world, we plan and predict our futures in the fortune-teller's tent, in the caboose, where a licensed phrenologist will count, measure, and touch all the bumps on your head, then mutter and mumble your possibilities of success in this modern world.  You can even get your palm scientifically read -- back there, in the rear.


Say goodbye to the Middle Class

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We’ve had an increase in the Initial Unemployment Claims number for the second straight week, and this may or maybe not bad news. It’s too early to get really worried about it, we’re still way below the 400,000 number that seems to indicate a failing economy these days. The numbers are seasonally adjusted and thanks to global warming we had no winter to speak of, causing the normal spring spike in activity to start in January. Low winter heating bills put an average of $400 per family into the economy with twice that in the northeast. Unfortunately,  high gasoline prices are taking it back again.

The far right is screaming about hyper-inflation again because of gas prices, and this totally wrong headed thinking is common among Federal Reserve Board members. This is what is spooking the stock market, that the Fed might start “fighting inflation”.


Playing Post Office or Possum

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Imagine birthdays, Valentine's Day, special occasions of all kinds without the Post Office's stamp of approval and thumbs-up.  Imagine America without Post Offices in its histories and small towns.  More to the point, imagine playing Post Office with a new, for-profit corporation: Imagine having to kiss up to and keep any new avocational CEO stocked up with vacation homes, wingtips, private jets.

The right-wing crazies want to bring down this venerable public institution too, bringing on a trick-opening for for-profit delivery -- some say by virtually engineering a downfall by triggering a financial crisis, just to get a foot in the door.  It's enough to make any American go postal, enough to make our first Postmaster General for 1775, Benjamin Franklin, twirl in his grave.


Connecting the Dots, Saying a Long Goodbye

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Both sides showed up on time, armed to the teeth with favorite weapons.  The Brains showed up early, skittish and unsure of themselves, legions of sparking, crackling facts and computer records at their fingertips, electrified as if by lightning. The Brawns marched in at the top of the hour, as agreed and decreed, clad in full-bore, end-of-the-world riot and combat gear -- all in black, befitting the solemn, sober, somber occasion -- and methodically beat The Brains into oblivion, no battling back, then, simply said, took over the world.

Or, how about this one? Christian right-wingers are not from around here, not from our home planet, but have been shipped in and placed here as part of a test to see if any sane humanoids could or would survive or even thrive in the midst of such an indelibly foul and alien race.


Vonnegut, Five Years Gone.

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Kurt Vonnegut left the planet five years ago today.  If you noticed his absence then, surely you also know by how much the world has not been the same since.  Some things, however, have not changed:  Kurt found the world humorous, hapless, sadly lacking  -- a pratfall away from cheating death or a breath from unimaginable brilliance.  Or both, maybe simultaneously.  He has said, "Human beings might as well look for diamond tiaras in the gutter as for rewards and punishments that were fair."

He was the author of 14 novels, 5 scripts, 5 short story collections, and 5 books of essays, and countless drawings, all filled with effervescent, irreverent, self-fluorescing Vonnegutian wit and crinkled-smile insights.  "Cat's Cradle" was one such book, in which Kurt created a fanciful and poetic religion, Bokononism -- along with the end of the world, of course.  The new religion gently explained the way of things, in rhyming "calypsos," using rare pairings of wry humor plied with the harsh truth:


The Man Who Made a Forest

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The whole business of heroes and fame routinely gets tangled up, mangled and strangled by modern life, interest levels somehow high in vapid and empty people created for the times, people famous only for being famous, their lively, spontaneous actions for renown all baled up with (and sometimes bailed out by) well-rehearsed legal dance-steps, or the fancy footwork of plain-deadly infamy.

In our modern world, we often confuse price and value, among so many other things.  That is marketing's tales-and-sales mission, and marketing always lands its beachheads well-prepared.

Contrast today's fleeting flights of fame, awards for spurious and curious being, against those of the world's geniuses of the past who invented and gave back to the world so incredibly much.


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