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Alex Baer

Vultures, Twinkies, and the Way of Nature

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It's possible to chew on things longer than is good for you.  At some point, those bones of contention getting all that Gnawing Attention start redirecting activity back upon the chewer.  It's been that way, and for some time now, on Twinkies.

The way I've been worrying around Twinkies in the back of my mind for the last 12 months, you'd think it was some sort of national emergency or imperative that I'd somehow, inexplicably, been put in charge of.  Although I'm not in charge of anything much these days, I have to say in the same breath that I'm not sure that this isn't some sort of national emergency at that.

This mental hand-wringing may only appear to be about Twinkies, but it's also about vultures (human and bird), and about Nature -- the ways of our cutthroat economic system, the nature and expression of human greed, and the nature of a general failure by the public to Pay Attention to Facts and Warning Signs.

If you felt a burst of psychic energy and clairvoyance, you could also add in there my being preoccupied something fierce about An Ongoing Desire to Act Against Our Own Best Interests as Individuals, and you wouldn't be wrong.

See, the system is rigged, and I've been trying to come up with a way to un-rig it.  But, like punch-drunk prizefighters who have been hammered and blasted for too many rounds without a break, we're on the ropes, all of us, gasping, while the referees are on their mobiles, Twittering, Tweeting, Facebooking, FacePlanting, following each other around and around, in tighter and more incestuous circles, stalkers and stalkees...

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 November 2013 21:30 Read more...

Hot new trend: Home-Made Straitjackets

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A clear theme has emerged in news magazines during the last few years and keeps getting stronger all the time, especially in the last few weeks:  The country is conducting its business on the basis of how much Crazy we can scrape together at any given time.

This is very bad news for the country but somewhat more acceptable news for me personally because, for a second there, I thought it was just me.

See, some time ago my own life slipped on a Canvas Camisole it has still not figured out how to shed.  It will take some time to undo this thing.  I am no Houdini.  Even a right-off-the-rack straitjacket offers me a tight fit -- and tight fits.

(Sidebar:  Perhaps this is where the expression, "dire straits" comes from.  I mean, I can see where dire situations might drive people into dire-straitjackets.  In any case, whether steely-eyed and sober, or barking-mad Looney Tunes, high as a weather balloon, I highly recommend the music of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits, jacket or no.)

For examples, you needn't look any further than the ongoing budget madness in the seat of our national government -- a seat I would relish paddling and/or kicking in a burst of absent self-restraint.

I defy anyone to use the words "sane" and "rational" to accurately describe the proceedings on Capitol Hill, a site that could really use a vast influx of canvas camisoles.  First, there was the slack-jawed disconnect of repeated attempts by our representatives to kill off a plan that only wanted to bring a scant, introductory level of medical wellness to their constituents.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 November 2013 23:34 Read more...

Life, Death, and Other Mindsets

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You're never too old to read a love letter.  It's not embarrassing, either.  It's downright invigorating.  Even at my age.  Or yours.

Age is just a state of mind, anyway.  In a year that's been filled with keen reminders of just how tenuous this whole business of breathing and remaining upright really is, Mark Twain comes unshakably to mind:  "Age is an issue of mind over matter.  If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

I'm not usually so accepting of such homilies and bromides, especially the ones bordering on such blind, positive-thinking alleyways and perky, overly-caffeinated boulevards -- but there you go.  The effects of reading last night's love letter, I suspect.

The love letter was called Young Frankenstein, first rolled out on its electrical scroll, way back in the Dark Ages (as some would say) of 1974.  Hard to believe almost four decades has slipped through consciousness since, the years as easy to misplace as handfuls of lake fog gathered just before dawn.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2013 14:57 Read more...

2 or 3 Reasons to Not Vaporize Us - Yet

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Welcome to the sequel:  Monday, Part 2 -- The Non-Incredible Sameness of It All.

Oh, sure. We could mist up some, get all starry-eyed, get down on one knee, mutter a hazy, uncertain prayer, and utter our eternal gratitude, all because our elected representatives in Washington finally started doing (gasp!) their jobs.  Avoiding a national and worldwide financial meltdown was a side bonus, of course.

Somehow, I'm just not there, way off in Blissful Gratitude Land somewhere.  It just doesn't seem like that much of a bargain or blessing.

Of course, we're not currently engaged in hand-to-hand combat in the streets, with the prize being the dubious but life-sustaining reward of dining on weeks-old dumpster fare.  That's a Good Thing, that whole Avoiding Apocalypse business.  I'm glad House representatives are finally allowing the country to do as its laws say, and actually honor the debts they have approved all along.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 October 2013 17:53 Read more...

How to Solve Modern Crises with Ancient Snacks

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Popcorn could be just the breakthrough we've all been looking for.

We've long needed something to help break through Madison Avenue's icy grip on our minds and on our wallets.  It could even allow, and help facilitate, contact with the Space Aliens openly living in our midst, called Republicans.

Popcorn?  Madison Avenue?  Space Aliens?

OK, let's back up and go slowly.  For openers, you know how a familiar feeling of vulnerability sometimes goes -- the sense that there are teams of psychologists working around the clock, seeking inroads to your psyche, in order to make you want to buy useless products, and ensure you are helpless to all commercial ads and suggestions, right?

Those feelings are normal, of course.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 October 2013 15:22 Read more...

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