Canoeing 12 miles off the coast of Mississippi…

November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4329_zps7f7b5ddb.jpg

A mere 10 miles out in the Gulf, off the coast of Mississippi  –  Dawn, November 10, 2014…

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

In September I’m flying to Madrid, Spain.  From there I’ll take the train to Pamplona, to meet up with my adventurous brother, Tom.  From that point we’ll both be hiking the Camino de Santiago.  (At left.)  We plan to hike 450 miles in 30 days.

Which brings up the 8-day canoe trip that we two took back in November 2014, “12 miles offshore.”  (I.e., 12  miles off the coast of Mississippi.)  We started out on Lake Pontchartrain, then paddled through the Rigolets, then out into the Gulf of Mexico.

12 miles out into the Gulf of Mexico.

We paddled a whole lot during the day.  In one stretch we paddled 17 miles in 11 hours.  Then at night we “primitive camped.”  We primitive camped on places like Half Moon Island and East Ship Island.  (And from time to time we camped on an occasional salt marsh.)

Which naturally brings up the question, Why?   Why would two old geezers – 63 and 69, respectively and at the time – paddle so far out into the realm of sharks and drowning?

http://walkinginfrance.info/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/Travels1.jpgI still don’t know the full answer, except to say that such adventures are a whole lot of fun once they’re over.  But part of the appeal got spelled out by both John Steinbeck – in Travels with Charley – and Robert Louis Stevenson.  (His Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes is at right.)

The sum and substance of it is that there’s something rewarding to doing the unexpected.  There’s something rewarding in paddling 12 miles offshore, at the mercy of the elements, with day’s end promising “naught but a lukewarm meal on a soggy beach,” or a more soggy salt marsh:

But as it turns out, that’s the nature of pilgrimages.   They give us a break from “real life,” from the rat race that consumes so many lives today…  [T]hrough the raw experience of hunger, cold and lack of sleep, “we can quite often find a sense of our fragility as mere human beings, especially when compared with ‘the majesty and permanence of God.’”   In short, such a pilgrimage can be “‘one of the most chastening, but also one of the most liberating’ of personal experiences.”

As Wikipedia noted, such journeys – pilgrimages – can be to a “shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs,” or some other search “of moral or spiritual significance.”  (Wikipedia also noted that one “popular pilgrimage journey is along the Way of St. James to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, in Galicia, Spain,” but that’s a subject for future posts.)  

But perhaps the best answer – at least for people of a certain age – is simply to show that we can still do it.  Or as John Steinbeck said in Travels with Charley, too many men – as they get older – “hood their passions, and gradually retire from their manhood.”  But that wasn’t his way:

I did not want to surrender fierceness for a small gain in yardage…  If this projected journey should prove too much then it was time to go anyway.  I see too many men delay their exits with a sickly, slow reluctance to leave the stage.  It’s bad theater as well as bad living.

Or to put it simply:  I want to have these adventures before I get too old and decrepity.

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And incidentally, the photo below is another one I took near dawn on November 10, 2014. (That’s the day we did 17 miles in 11 hours, which amounted to some six hours of actual canoeing.)  Also, given the age of the “intrepid canoeists” it behooved us to learn – through “OJT“ – the technique of “siesta at sea.”  Note the calm water that is a necessity for such a siesta when you’re 10 or 12 miles out in the Gulf.  In other words, it pays to pace yourself

In further words, we’ll likely be taking plenty of siestas on the Camino de Santiago.

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November 10, 2014 photo IMG_4332_zps47e076b9.jpg

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The upper image is a photo I took near dawn on the morning of November 10, 2014.  (And incidentally, those are clouds on the horizon, not land.)  That day we got up and broke camp at 3:00 a.m.  We hit the water at 5:00 a.m. and paddled 17 miles in 11 hours, not counting an hour break on Cat Island, before proceeding to West Ship Island.  

For a longer version of this tale, see On canoeing 12 miles offshore, from May 2015.

The “pilgrim” image – to the left of the first paragraph in the main text – is courtesy of the Wikipedia article on the Camino de Santiago.  The caption:  “Way of St. James pilgrims (1568).”

Re:  “Calm water.”  The Gulf waters were so calm because we got up and broke camp at 3:00 in the morning.  Later on in the day – owing to increased wind and the heat of the sun – the waters in the Gulf of Mexico get way more roiled.

Re:  Siestas.  Wikipedia noted that such short naps include the “traditional daytime sleep of Spain,” while in America and other non-Mediterranean cultures the habit has caught on while being referred to as a “power nap.”  The article included the image at left, with the caption:  “A painting of a young woman taking a siesta,” or The hammockGustave Courbet (1844).

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.

July 4th: “God save the Queen?”

“American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate [July 4th] in 1902 Puck cartoon…”

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Walk, Don't Run.jpgWe know the song better as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”  (The “lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831.”)  

But in what was the old country – to most if not all Founding Fathers – the tune was called God Save the Queen.

(In a totally-unrelated side-note, Cary Grant and Jim Hutton sang the first verse – of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee – in the 1966 film “Walk, Don’t Run” – shown at left – “while simultaneously Grant and Samantha Eggar sang ‘God Save the Queen.'”)

There’s more about that incipient dichotomy further below, but first it should be noted that today is July 4th, and that’s better known as Independence Day.

Independence Day [commemorates] the adoption of the Declaration of Independence 241 years ago on July 4, 1776.  The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies regarded themselves as a new nation, the United States of America, and were no longer part of the British Empire.

To repeat that last part:  What had been 13 American colonies “were no longer part of the British Empire.”  Which is another way of saying that “things had changed,” and that change was exemplified by our singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, not God Save the Queen.

And now a word about Puck, the magazine…

The source of the cartoon at the top of the page – Puck – was the “first successful humor magazine in the United States of colorful cartoonscaricatures and political satire of the issues of the day.  It was published from 1871 until 1918.”

Did you get that last?  Political satire!

Which is another way of saying that any real American will always retain his or her sense of humor, up to and including the ability to laugh at himself.  (Or herself.)  And that’s another way of saying that no real American will ever be too thin-skinned to do his job.  (Or hers.)

Not that that observation applies to current events or anything…  

But before getting back on track, here’s a note for those who think emoticons were literally or figuratively “invented yesterday.”  (Or at least only in this century.)  The illustration at right is from the March 1881 edition of Puck magazine.

Which just goes to show that there’s nothing new under the sun.  But now:  Getting back on track…

Last July 5th, I posted On the Independent Voter.

The key point I made – last year at this time – was the growing refusal to compromise in politics, “and compromise is the keystone of a American democracy.”  That in turn has led to the growth of black and white thinking.  “Psychologists call that splitting, or ‘the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole.'”

And that in turn has led to the growth of the “Independent voter,” and just in time…

That is, there seems to be a growing fallacy – among Conservatives – that they are the only real Americans.  See for example Conservatives Who Believe in ‘Trumpism:”

The number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support Donald Trump is relatively small.  But the number of high-profile conservative commentators who enthusiastically support “Trumpism” is higher.  Trumpism is the belief that Trump’s followers constitute the “real America” and that anyone who does not validate their grievances is an elitist who neither understands nor cares about ordinary folks.

Which leads to this “something to think about.”  If the Founding Fathers had been Conservative, we wouldn’t be celebrating the Fourth of the July today, would we?

We’d all be singing “GOD SAVE THE *&^%$ QUEEN!”

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God Save the Queen

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The upper image is courtesy of Independence Day (United States) – Wikipedia.  

Re: Americans’ ability to laugh at themselves.  See the quote from Desi Arnaz at American people have the ability to laugh at themselves:  “American people have the ability to laugh at themselves.  It is one of the things that makes this country the great country that it is.”  See also Why Laughing at Yourself May Be Good for You.

Re:  Nothing new under the sun.  See also Ecclesiastes 1:9.

Re:  Refusal to compromise.  See The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It, and/or The Spirit of Compromise.

The lower image is courtesy of God Save the Queen …vantagefx.com.  The link is to an article posted February 23, 2016:  “Brexit Odds and Oil Speculation.”

Last year at this time…

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge.jpg

“Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge,” during the winter of 1777-78, and as noted last June 23…

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Stephen Dobert standing on rock near False Summit looking south toward Skagway, Alaska.Last year at this time I was training for a four-day “hike” on the Chilkoot Trail.*  (Well- and deservedly known as the “meanest 33 miles in history,” and as ilustrated at right.)

I was also getting ready – last year at this time – to canoe 440 miles down the Yukon River, in Canada.*  That canoe-trip started three or four days after the hike, and took 13 days.

This year at this time I’m in training to hike 450 miles in 30 days on the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, in September.

Between last June and this June we’ve had a contentious presidential election, and an even more contentious beginning-of-the-Trump Administration.  So I’ve decided to focus on some things I can actually have an impact on.  (And that won’t drive me crazy trying to keep up with all the lies and counter-lies.)  Things like my upcoming pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

Which means that in the near future I’ll be starting a series of posts, detailing what I expect the hiking trip to be like.  I’ll refer to those posts during the hike itself.  Then, once the hiking trip is over, I’ll do a post-mortem, to see how close my fantasy matched with reality.

But first, here’s a look back at last year at this time.  (Vis-à-vis “fantasy matching reality.”)

In “The Sweetest Place on Earth” – posted last June 23 – I noted “the difference in those who can work with others to come up with viable solutions to our problems, as opposed to those who just ‘curse the darkness.'”  Which seems strangely prescient, as was this cartoon:

In that post I also noted the now-apparently-obsolete idea that “great politicians sell hope.”  (An idea which now seems far more honored in the breach.)  But a reminder:  In this post I am trying to “focus on things I can actually have an impact on.”  Which brought up the idea of “65 being the new 30,” and on my then-just-turning 65, and so being eligible for Medicare:

 There’s a lot of living left to do after age 60…

Christie Brinkley: Still Stunning in a Swimsuit at 60!Or age 65 for that matter.  And a BTW:  The post included a photo of Christie Brinkley, with the comment, “Now that’s turning 60!

And speaking of reasons why it’s great to live in this country:  I followed-up that June 23 post with On the Independent Voter (Posted July 5, 2016.)  Which made that a great time to bring up Independence Day:

Independence Day is a day of family celebrations [of] the American tradition of political freedom…  Independence Day is a patriotic holiday for celebrating the positive aspectsof the United States…  Above all, people in the United States express and give thanks for the freedom and liberties fought [for] by the first generation of many of today’s Americans. (E.A.)

Those Independent Voters –  “who don’t align with either major political party” – could well have taken their cue from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said:  “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”  Which presents the biggest problem facing such “Independents:”

“One must always choose the lesser of two weevils!”

Of course it remains to be seen whether Americans chose the “lesser of two weevils” in last November’s election.  But who knows?  It may turn out that – like America under the Articles of Confederation – things had to get much worse before they could get much better…

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The upper image is courtesy of Valley Forge – Wikipedia.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “hike’ on the Chilkoot Trail,” and  “canoeing 440 miles ‘down’ the Yukon River, in Canada:”  The image of the Chilkoot Trail is courtesy of Explore the Chilkoot Trail, and/or the National Park Service.   The caption:  “Looking South From False Summit, Chilkoot Trail.”  As to my experience, see On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 1, and On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2, both of which have photo-image mishaps which need to be addressed.  As to the 13-day Yukon River trip, see “Naked lady on the Yukon…

Another note:  The Yukon canoe trip went from Whitehorse  to Dawson City.  As to the emphasized “up:”  The Yukon is like the Nile in that it flows north, unlike many other rivers.  Thus when paddling down the river – with the current – one is actually paddling north, and thus “up.” 

The quote “things had to get worse before they could get better” is one I remembered from reading The Quartet:  Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789, by Joseph Eilis. (Or “Words to that Effect.”)  Ellis wrote about the four men who “shaped the contours of American history by diagnosing the systemic dysfunctions created by the Articles of Confederation.”  (Note the emphasized phrase “systemic dysfunction.”)  Another note:  Ellis’ book is not to be confused with The Second American Revolution, by John W. Whitehead.  That book ostensibly seeks to be a Christian “fundamentalist manifesto,” and/or to lay “the foundation and framework for fighting the tyrannical, secularist, humanistic power, which has separated our country from its Judeo-Christian base and now dominates this nation and its courts.”

The lower image is courtesy of pinterest.com.  See also Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – YouTubeLesser of Two Evils – TV TropesReader Opinion: Clinton v Trump and “the lesser of two weevils, Master and Commander: A Movie Review – Maccabee Society, and/or Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World – Wikipedia.

“There he goes again” – Revisited

No, this isn’t a caricature of Donald Trump.  (But this alligator mississippiensis is smiling nicely…)

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Image may contain: one or more peopleIt’s been tough getting back to blogging on a regular basis.

That’s pretty much what I noted in the last post, dated May 12, 2017:  From 11/8/16: “He’ll be impeached within two years:”

…aside from a “pain in the back,” I’ve undergone some other big  life events including but not limited to a[n eye] surgery … to have a lens put back in one eye [as shown a[bove] right]…  But now things have calmed down a bit, even if only in my own life. Which means I can get back to blogging

Image titled 10852 9Unfortunately, it still hasn’t been easy.  One big reason is my recent life events – “including but not limited to” – included the long, drawn-out process of first Buying a House, then moving out of my old, tiny one-bedroom apartment, and third moving my accumulated junk into a new and relatively-expansive private home.

So now I’m part of the landed gentry

But as I also discovered, this process continues “even to this day.”  Which means that while I’ve moved all my accumulated belongings into the new house, much of that “stuff” remains in boxes or big piles scattered mostly in the farther-back rooms.  But now I have time…

So anyway, to get back in the swing of things, I came up with the idea of looking back at what I was doing about  this time last year.  That led me to “There he goes again,” from May 30, 2016.

Since then the phrase “there he goes again” has taken on a whole new meaning.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgLast year’s “There he goes again” was about my projected June 2016 kayaking trip deep into the Okefenokee Swamp.  This was to be my second overnight-camping trek into the swamp, which “despite it’s fearsome reputation – as illustrated by the lurid movie poster at right … is quite peaceful.”

It turned out to be quite an exciting second trip into the Okefenokee.  Among other things I saw some fifty alligators during the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)

And I camped at the CANAL RUN shelter, “some nine miles in from the Foster State Park launch site.”   And  (Complete with its own in-house resident gator.)  Third, because it was so early in the season the canoe-only trails were much vegetated-over.  Which meant that many times I had to “butt-scootch” my kayak over a barely-sunken log, and sometimes had to stick my hand out, grab another log and finish pulling the kayak only.  The last time I reached my left hand out I saw a patch of white.

It turned out to be yet another gator – though rather smaller than the one shown at the top of the page – and “smiling” nicely at what he no doubt thought was a tasty new snack.

But now back to that phrase “there he goes again” having taken on a whole new meaning.

On a hunch – in writing up this post – I Googled “trump ‘there he goes again'” and got 4,200,000 results.  Of those 4,200,000 posts, many seem to have been dated before the election.  See for example Donald Trump: There He Goes Again | HuffPost:  From July 19, 2016, Trump was quoted as saying that John McCain “is no war hero … because he was captured.”

(For an alternate view see Torture – John McCain – Pictures – CBS News.  Also, the caption for the photo at left reads:  “McCain’s flight suit and parachute, on display in the North Vietnamese museum at the site of the “Hanoi Hilton” Hoa Lo Prison.”)

More recently, from April 5, 2017, there was There He Goes Again:  On NAFTA Trump Fails To Live Up To What He Says, And American Workers Will Pay For It.  The post – written by “Chuck Jones, President, United Steelworkers Local 1999” – noted a local plant shutdown that had “outraged” Trump on the campaign trail, but not a bit since he’s taken office:

President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted his outrage when the shutdown was announced.  But President Trump hasn’t said a thing since…  I could see it coming back in February when, speaking about what he had been calling the U.S.’s “worst trade deal ever,” and a “disaster,” he said NAFTA just needed “tweaking.”

(Jones was referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement.  See the notes for more.)  

And finally, there was this from May 5, 2017:  There He Goes Again… Trump Praises Single Payer Healthcare.  It seems that shortly after celebrating “the 1/3 passage of the American Healthcare Act” – 1/3 because it only passed the House and not the Senate, nor was it signed into law by the President – Donald Trump “sat with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, and praised their country’s single payer healthcare system.”

The conservative-bent writer went into detail about the problems confronting what he thought would be positive change to our health-care system.  He also said Trump’s “public concession that single payer healthcare is better than our own is going to do more to damage our effort than Obamacare’s failure.”  (And he noted among other things that Trump’s “misspeaks” prompted Senator Bernie Sanders to burst into laughter and promise “to quote the president on the floor of the Senate when they debate their own version of the bill,” with video.)

The article then concluded:

“…we need the president to just stop talking.  For the love of God, just smile and wave.  Please?”

Which would be a nice change, and brings us back to the photo at the top of the page.

Meanwhile, maybe it’s time for me to go back “back in to the swamp,” back to kayaking in the quiet, peaceful Okefenokee, home of Pogo Possum and his gentle friends:

…despite the discomfort that seems to got along with such efforts, it felt good to finally visit the home of Pogo Possum.  To visit – even for such a short while – the “hollow trees amidst lushly rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods.”

And speaking of Pogo Possum, here’s a bit of homespun wisdom to meditate…

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Pogo - Earth Day 1971 poster.jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of Alligator – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “American alligator (A. mississippiensis).”  I used that lead image in the post – from May 30, 2016 – “There he goes again.”  The caption used in the post reads:  “An ‘alligator mississippiensis,’ prevalent in the Okefenokee Swamp – where I’ll soon be kayaking…”

The lower image was also featured in the 5/30/16 post, and featured the following:

The lower “enemy is us” cartoon image is courtesy of Pogo (comic strip) – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Pogo daily strip from Earth Day, 1971.”  In the alternative:  “A 1971 Earth Day comic strip written and illustrated by Walt Kelly, featuring Pogo and Porkypine [sic].”  Wikipedia described Porky Pine:

A porcupine, a misanthrope and cynic; prickly on the outside but with a heart of gold.  The deadpan Porky never smiles in the strip (except once, allegedly, when the lights were out).  Pogo’s best friend, equally honest, reflective and introverted, and with a keen eye both for goodness and for human foibles.  

I wondered why I liked him so much…

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Re:  Trump on NAFTA.  See Trump Softens NAFTA Stance | ExecutiveBizTrump Backs Away From Softer NAFTA Stance – IndustryWeekTrump renews aggressive stance on NAFTA | 2017-04-19, and – from yesterday, May 29, 2017 – Trump Softens on NAFTA Stance – YouTube.  (Yet again, it seems.)

From 11/8/16: “He’ll be impeached within two years…”

President Trump's first 100 days make it seem like he might not make it through his first term.

Does this look like the face of a president about to be impeached … within two years or otherwise???

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Image may contain: one or more peopleMy last post was on March 22.  Since then, aside from a “pain in the back,” I’ve undergone some other big  life events including but not limited to a surgery – like the one at right – to have a lens put back in one eye.  (See On that nail in my right eye.)

But now things have calmed down a bit, even if only in my own life.  Which means I can get back to blogging

And speaking of stress:  How about that Donald Trump? 

On that note, here are some recent predictions that “the Donald” will end up impeached.

Two are from “one day ago,” as of May 9, 2017.  One said Attorneys Explain Why Trump Must Be Impeached!  (Which included the image at left.)  The second said, 2 Men Pass Away Happy After Believing … Donald Trump Was Impeached:

Two people who recently passed away were led to believe President Trump was impeached. Corliss Gilchrist, of Iowa, was told by a loved one that “Trump’s impeachment process had begun so he would rest in peace,” according to Gilchrist’s obituary.  Gilchrist was a few days from turning 92 years old.  In Oregon, relatives say Michael Elliott, 75, passed away peacefully last month as soon as he was told Trump had been impeached.

The third one – from April 29, 2017 – said this:  After first 100 days, Trump impeachment seems like a safe bet.  That was from the New York Daily News, which – by the way – endorsed George W. Bush for president in 2004Barack Obama in 2008, and Mitt Romney in 2012.  (Arguably showing an editorial stance best called “‘flexibly centrist’ with a populist streak.”)

Briefly, the Daily News compared certain before-and-after “expert predictions” about Trump.  (The paper used the front page at right in 1975, about then-president Ford.)  The first predictions were made in January, and the second set came after Trump’s first 100 days in office.

In January the four experts said – ahead of the inauguration – that Trump had “set himself for potential impeachment.”  After those first 100 days, the predictions got worse:  “The trouble Trump took to the White House has only deepened or expanded in his short tenure…”

But heck, I was saying that back on Election Day.  (November 8, 2016, in case you forgot.)

On the morning of November 8 – when everyone and his brother were predicting Hillary Clinton would be the next president – I prepared some notes, “Just in case Trump gets elected.”

It’s simple math.

Half the country already hates him – and what he seems to stand for.  On the other hand, a large majority of people willing to vote for him simply and sincerely believe that “Washington” is broken and needs to be shaken up.  Or they simply can’t stand Hillary…

That last was based on an observation that 51 percent of Trump backers “mainly oppose Clinton, rather than supporting him.”  That in turn was from the online article, Clinton Continues to Expand National Lead, posted early on the morning of November 6, 2016.

Which brings up the fact that I have that Paranoid Streak shared by many Americans.  Which is another way of saying that in the months leading up to Election Day, I had many a sleepless night, in large part based on the nightmare that Trump might actually end up getting elected…

(That is, on many a sleepless night leading up to the election, I would wake up and have to check the latest online posts, just to make sure the polls still showed that a Responsible Adult would be the next president, not Donald Trump…)  

But he did get elected – I still don’t know how – and the “horror” turned out to be not as bad as expected.  (Or as those great philosophers Crosby, Stills & Nash once said, “You will survive being bested…)  One of the reasons for that includes but is not limited to the fact that the “Sovereign People” seem to be finally coming to their senses, when it comes to “the Donald.”

But we digress…  

I was writing about a prediction – back on Election Day – that even if Trump did get elected, he probably wouldn’t serve a full term.  Then – based on a poll in February – I added this:

If Trump turns out to be as bad as people expect – based on how he presented himself, both in his campaigns and in office – fully 75% of the country could be strongly against him by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018.  Which could turn out to be a single-issue race.

For example, challengers for Congressional office could be elected based on the simple vow: “I will vote to impeach Donald.”  (Or convict him, in races for the Senate.)  So in simple self-defense – or more precisely, in hopes of keeping their jobs – those Members already in office will “do a preemptive:”  Move to impeach and convict before the election.

(The poll in question was titled Does Trump’s support have a ceiling — or a floor?)

All of which seems to be coming true.  See for example this from May 10, Poll: Trump’s approval rating sinks, near new record low as base support shrinks, which noted that ” just 36 percent of registered voters approve of the president’s job, with 56 percent saying they disapprove.”

And by the way:  Speaking of the Russian connection, whatever happened to Boris Epshteyn?

According to Wikipedia, Epshteyn served as the “Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations” for the Trump Administration.  Wikipedia added that he served just a little over two months, from January 20 – when Trump took office – to March 25, 2017.

Do you think maybe he was setting a precedent???

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boris epshteyn donald trump foundation solicitation response ath_00023921

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Notes:

The upper image is courtesy of After first 100 days, Trump impeachment seems like a safe bet:

President Trump has courted so much constitutional disaster in his first 100 days that an impeachment now seems like a safe bet, government ethics experts say…  In January, the Daily News spoke with four experts ahead of Trump’s inauguration about how he had set himself for potential impeachment from the moment he took the Oath of Office.  The experts highlighted Trump’s financial conflicts of interest, his hints at obstruction of justice and his potential for perjury in dozens of open lawsuits.  No other President, they argued, had ever taken the job with so many causes to lose it.

The News checked back with those same four experts about Trump’s first 100 days, and they saw only more reasons to anticipate an ouster.  The trouble Trump took to the White House has only deepened or expanded in his short tenure, they said.

For more on the New York Daily News, see Wikipedia, which noted this:

The New York Times has reported that the Daily News has consistently “occupied an inimitable niche, speaking to and for the city’s working class and offering a schizophrenic mix of titillating crime reportage and hard-hitting coverage of public issues…  The Daily Newss editorial stance is “flexibly centrist” with a populist streak.  In presidential elections, the paper endorsed Republican George W. Bush in 2004, Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, Republican Mitt Romney in 2012, and Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

The nightmare image is courtesy of wallpapers: Nightmare Wallpaperswallpapers-xs.blogspot.com.

The lower image is courtesy of Trump aide Boris Epshteyn leaving White House.  (CNN.)  See also Boris Epshteyn – Wikipedia.

On my “pain in the back…”

Back-Pain

“Why – indeed – does my back hurt so much?”  See my answer below…

*   *   *   *

Consider this a follow-up to my last post, On that nail in my right eye.  (Which included the image at right, of character actor Jack Elam.)  Taken together these two posts might lead you to consider me as among the walking wounded.  (Which is pretty much how I’ve felt the last several weeks.)  But the “nail in the eye” incident happened six or seven years ago, and in April is scheduled to be corrected by some new-fangled surgery.

The “pain in the back” is of more recent vintage, and in fact came perfectly timed for Lent.

Now about that “pain in the back.”  Unfortunately,  I’m not speaking metaphorically.

I actually didthrow out my back,” last Thursday, March 2.  That was only three days after my last post, Nail in my right eye.  And the reason that was my last post is because – ever since – I’ve been unable to sit at my “laptop” desk at home for more than a few minutes at a time.

As noted in September 2016,* for next September – 2017 – “my brother and I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago, mostly in Spain.”  (As shown at left.)  And as part of my training for that upcoming event, I tried a type of “forced march.”  (Also known as a “loaded march.”)

Briefly, a forced march involves a long period – many miles – of alternating periods of walking and running – or jogging for older folk – but with increased resistance provided by a heavy pack.

In my case, on the Camino itself I hope to maintain a pace of 20 minutes per mile, with about 20 pounds of pack weight.  So for training purposes, I started experimenting with cycles of one minute – 85 steps – of jogging, followed by a number of minutes walking to set that pace.

Product DetailsAnd all the while wearing a 22-pound weight vest.  (Like that at right.)

I started out with one minute of jogging followed by six minutes of walking.  But I also wanted to be time-efficient, so I kept increasing the pace, by decreasing the number of walking minutes.  Finally, on March 2, I tried a four-minute cycle:  One minute of jogging and three minutes of walking.  To make a long story short, I overextended.

The problem – I figured out later – was that the weight vest was a bit too loose, so that my back got a constant pounding.  (Much in the nature of a series of kidney punches, as I also figured out later.)  There were warning signs, including the fact that it hurt to breathe during those minutes I was jogging.  Unfortunately, I succumbed to the temptation to “Walk it offNancy!

Bad move.

Which is another way of saying that I’ve been paying for it ever since.

And which is a big reason why my “pain in the back” came perfectly timed for Lent.

According to Wikipedia, Lent is devoted to prayer and penance – as seen at leftalong withrepentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.” And of course one big reason for people to undergo that Season of Lent is to “draw themselves near to God.”  So what better way to draw near to God than to suffer – like Paul – a thorn in the flesh, to “buffet me” and to “keep me from exalting myself?”

Or like they say on TV, misery builds character.  So here I sit, not at my “laptop desk,” but rather in my easy chair, using a Jury rigged system to type through the tears and the back-pain.  (Courtesy of a pillow for my laptop – which makes for awkward typing – along with a side TV stand for the mouse, plus a heating pad for my back.)

Which brings up an interesting side note about Lent.  There are actually 46 days between the beginning of Lent – on Ash Wednesday – and Easter Sunday.  That’s because Sundays don’t count in the calculation.  Sundays in Lent are essentially “days off,” when you can still enjoy whatever it is that you’ve given up for Lent.

That fact got overlooked by the writer/producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights, as shown in the image below.  That was the 2002 romantic comedy film which showed the main character “during a period of abstinence from any sexual contact for the duration of Lent.”  (As noted, the main character could have “taken Sundays off.”)

Or in case I’m being too subtle, the writer/producers of 40 Days and 40 Nights didn’t know – or didn’t care – that under the rules of Lent, the Josh Hartnett character could have had sex one day a week during those “40 days and 40 nights.”  (Dang Hollywood liberals!)

But we digress.  The point is that – thanks to my misguided “forced march” back on March 2 – I now have my own thorn in the flesh, as part of my 2017 Lenten spiritual discipline…

Still, I hope to get back on schedule over the next week or so.  (The new president has given us so much to write about, and I’m still trying to figure out which one is the Bizarro Trump…)  

*   *   *   *

The text set is in a phallic column extending from Hartnett's crotch.

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Back-Painemdocs.net.  Although the article concerned pediatric back pain – back pain suffered by “infants, children, and adolescents” – it did note that the “incidence of back pain increases with age.”  Also re:  “Threw out my back.”  See also Throw Out Your Back? 8 Tips to Help You Recover, which includes steps I wished I’d taken three weeks ago. 

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to “As noted in September 2016,” the reference (*) is to the post “Starting back with a bang,” in my companion blog, dorscribe.com.  It told of the near-six-weeks last summer that my brother and I spent “hiking the Chilkoot Trail – ‘meanest 33 miles in history‘ – and canoeing 440 miles on the ‘mighty Yukon River.’”  I ended that post by noting I would “talk more about that [projected journey] – and pilgrimages in general – in St. James, Steinbeck, and sluts.”

The weight-vest image is courtesy of Amazon.com: weighted vest.

Re:  “Forced march.”  See Loaded march – Wikipedia, which noted that in the U.S. Army, a forced march for training purposes means covering 12 miles in three hours, while carrying 70 pounds including pack.  (Meaning four miles per hour, whereas I was considering an average of three miles per hour on the Camino, carrying no more than 20 pounds, or 10% of my body weight.)  Also, in the French Foreign Legion, a forced march meant covering five miles in 40 minutes, while carrying a 26-pound pack.  After describing other, longer types, Wikipedia noted:

Troublemakers are made to place extra rocks in their backpacks for the duration of the marches.  Further in the training of a “Caporal” there is a 100 km march which must be completed in 24 hours.

Re:  “Nanc[y].”  See also Tough it out – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.  

Re:  “Thorn in the flesh, ‘to buffet me – to keep me from exalting myself.”  See 2d Corinthians 12:7.  In the King James Bible the passage reads:  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”

Re: “Penance [as seen at left].”  The image – of “Saint Peter Repentant” – is actually under contrition in the Wikipedia article on penance.  The painting (1823-25) was by Francisco Goya.

Re:  “The Josh Hartnett character could have had sex one day a week during those ’40 days and 40 nights.”  As noted, that observation concerned only the “rules of Lent.”  That wouldn’t include the standard religious rules and/or guidelines concerning fornication.  See Wikipedia, which included the note that “a minority of theologians have argued in more recent times that premarital sex may not be immoral in some limited circumstances.  An example is John Witte, who argues that the Bible itself is silent on the issue of consensual, premarital sex between an engaged couple.”

Re:  “Hollywood liberals.”  But see Five reasons Hollywood is not a bastion of liberalism.  The Washington Post article noted that “the Hollywood right – led by Louis B. Mayer, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, and Charlton Heston – has had a greater impact on American political life.  All four men helped lay the groundwork for the conservative revolution of the 1980s…”

The lower image is courtesy of 40 Days and 40 Nights – Wikipedia.  One caption for the image:  “The text set is in a phallic column extending from Hartnett’s crotch.”

On that nail in my right eye…

(…which could have resulted in a “lazy eye” like character actor Jack Elam – but didn’t.)

*   *   *   *

Here’s a break from Politics:  Six years ago I was helping my brother take up the deck in his back yard.  I ended up having a large nail – like the one shown at right* – shoot up and puncture my right eye.

Since then I’ve learned to manage with one good eye.  Then last Friday, February 24, I went to a local eye institute.  I figured on getting my right eye fixed, but it turned out more complicated than I thought.  (“Of which more anon.”)  Which leads to one point of this story:  That fooling around with sharp objects can indeed “put your eye out.”  That’s what happened to veteran character actor Jack Elam, shown in the top picture.

Born in 1920, by the early 1930s he was living with his father and stepmother.  (His birth mother died in 1922.)  There – in south central Arizona – he “lost the sight in his left eye during a boyhood accident when he was stabbed with a pencil at a Boy Scout meeting.”

Then of course there was that famous exchange in the 1983 film A Christmas Story:

Ralphie:  I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

Mrs. Parker:  No, you’ll shoot your eye out.

Which is pretty much what nearly happened.*  Which leads to another valid point:  That sometimes those old wives’ tales turn out to be true.  (See also Old wives’ tale – Wikipedia.*)

But getting back to the nail in my right eye:  The thing I remember most about the incident – six years ago – was a feeling of utter stupidity.  How could I have done such a thing?  How could I have been so careless?

That, together with a feeling of being totally out of it.  I know my brother drove me back and forth to the local eye institute’s other-side-of-Atlanta offices and back, several times.  (On the Atlanta Beltway, which is normally a nightmare to drive even one time.)  I also remember that there was at least one surgery, and a host of pre- and post-operation doctor visits.

But through it all I was pretty much in a daze.

Now fast-forward six years, beyond the ongoing lack of depth perception that I had to learn to deal with.  (As illustrated at right.)  And my going on to finally adjusting to seeing with only one good eye.  Around this time last year – at the annual eye exam that I now take very serious – there was some mention of a corrective procedure that would cost only $500.

But I decided to wait.  And the end result was that having turned 65 last summer, the procedure would now be covered by Medicare.  But again, then came the complications last Friday.

The local doctor who does my eye exams made an appointment at the College Park office.  He added that I could drive myself up and back, and that the actual procedure would only take about five minutes.  Which sounded too good to be true, and it was…

It turned out he was talking about a YAG eye procedure:

A YAG procedure, or … posterior capsulotomy, is a type of corrective surgery sometimes needed to correct cloudiness of the lens covering, which is known as posterior capsule opacification, following cataract surgery…

Which was part of what threw me off during the “procedure preliminaries.”  The nurse practitioner started asking questions about my cataract, and I had no idea what she was talking about.  (I had gotten a nail through my eye!)  But in the fullness of time things got clearer.

That is, I finally got to talk to the surgeon who’d operated on and “saved my right eye” six years ago, and he had a different opinion.  A YAG procedure – shown at left – would indeed take only five minutes, and I’d have been able to drive myself home.

The problem was:  A “YAG” only clears up cloudiness in the lens of the eye.  My problem was: I had no lens in the right eye.  The surgeon had taken the lens out – damaged as it was – in the process of saving the eye six years ago.  So the surgeon’s solution was a secondary lens Implant.

The end result?  A new appointment for an actual surgery in April, complete with a thick folder of cautionary instructions and a prescription for three separate eye drops that appear to be really expensive.  Then too I won’t be able to drive home, so the nice insurance lady arranged for a ride to and from the surgery.  (Paid for by Medicare, thank you very much.)   But I feel ever so much better about this procedure.  If it’s going to be this complicated – I’ll have to tape a plastic shield over my right eye at night, to prevent “inadvertent rubbing” – it’s got to be worthwhile.

Of course I know I’ll get more nervous as the time for the surgery gets closer, but maybe – just maybe – I’ll then be able to see out of both eyes, and have some depth perception.

Also “of course,” there was and is a simple solution that could have prevented all this rigamarole:  Always wear safety glasses,* no matter how dorky they look…

*   *   *   *

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Jack Elamlostcoastoutpost.com.  The photo of Elam was part of an article – “GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY: The Good, the Bad and the Awesome” – which was in turn a trbute to “Spaghetti Westerns.”  (Referring to the broad subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone‘s film-making style…  The term was used by American critics [because they] were produced and directed by Italians.”)  

And a BTW:  The original title for this post was”Yes, ‘you could put your eye out!'”

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “large nail – like the one shown at right:”   I’ve kept the actual offending large nail “even to this day,” but was unable to upload a photo of it in time for publication.  Note that the nail image as used is courtesy of additionally 16 Penny Nails Home Depot moreover 10 X 3 1 8 In 12 Penny …nikecuador.com.  I believe the actual offending nail is a “12 penny;” at any rate, it is some 3 and 3/4 inches long, bent and rusty.

Re:  The 1983 film, A Christmas Story.  Wikipedia noted that Ralphie ended up getting the gun, but:

Ralphie takes the gun outside and fires it at a target perched on a metal sign in the backyard. However, the BB ricochets back at Ralphie and knocks his glasses off.  While searching for them, thinking he has indeed shot his eye out, Ralphie accidentally steps on his glasses and breaks them.  In order to cover for the fact that he accidentally broke his glasses, Ralphie tells his mother that a falling icicle was responsible for the accident.  His mother, not having seen what actually happened, believes him.

On that note, the “Ralphie-with-a-BB-gun” photo is courtesy of The Lance : Christmas Classic Movie Review: A Christmas Storyfunny-pictures.picphotos.net.

Re:  Old wives’ tale.  Wikipedia noted that such “‘tales’ are considered superstition, folklore or unverified claims with exaggerated and/or inaccurate details.  Old wives’ tales often center on women’s traditional concerns, such as pregnancy, puberty, social relations, health, herbalism and nutrition.”  The article includes a list of such sayings, such as:  “Swimming with full stomach causes cramps and [you] should wait an hour after eating before swimming;”  “Don’t make silly faces or it will make the silly face permanent;”  and “Shaving makes the hair grow back thicker.”

Re: Depth perception.  That lack turned out to be a problem when I was climbing “one big pile of &^%$ rocks after another.”  See the notes to On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.

Re: “Dorky.”  Merriam-Webster indicated the term, “when used to refer to a socially awkward or inept person, is a relatively recent word:  our records indicate that it first appeared in writing in the 1960s.”

Re:  “Always wear safety glasses.”  I should mention that my “niece by marriage” got me a gag gift for the Christmas following the punctured-eye incident in August.  She got me a solid set of heavy-duty plastic safety glasses.  (See also closing the barn door after the horse has bolted – Idioms.  And a side note:  The term “niece by marriage” was provided by What would you call your nephews wife – Answers.com.  Another site, What do you call your nephew’s wife – Answers.com, posits that the “English language has no special name for a nephew’s wife and does not consider you to be related to you. You would simply call her ‘my nephew’s wife.'”)

The lower image is courtesy of We’re going to be remembered [for] dorky looking goggles … kotaku.com.au, in “This Week In The Business: The Dorky-Looking Goggles People.”

“Meet Bizarro Trump?”

Bizarro-statue-620

At least you could easily tell the Bizarro version – seen above – from the real Superman

*   *   *   *

Remember “The Name Game?”  It was a popular song by Shirley Ellis, released in 1964.  it hit #3 on Billboard Charts, as a rhyming game that created “variations on a person’s name.”  So if we played the game today – with the name of our new president – the variation would be:  “Donald, Donald, bo-bonald, Banana-fana fo-fonald, Fee-fy-mo-monald, Donald!”

And speaking of parlor games

ClassicBizarro.PNGSome time ago I planned a post on “Bizarro Trump.”  (A name that to some may seem “redundant redundant.”)  The allusion would be to the Bizarro Superman, as shown at left.  But as noted, the project is turning out to be way more complicated than I ever imagined.*

As noted in a previous post, “That’s mostly because it’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to tell which version of ‘the Donald‘ is more weird:  Bizarro Trump or the real thing.”

For example, during the campaign Trump threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he won.  But once he did win, he changed his mind.  (See Trump flips, now opposes prosecution for Clinton, posted 11/22/16.  See also Statement About Putting Hillary in Jail Was a “Quip.”)  Then there was Trump’s red-meat campaign promise to “kill Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation.*”  But then just today – February 21 – he changed his mind again.  (See Trump to spare U.S. ‘dreamer’ immigrants from crackdown.)

So which is the real “Donald,” and which is the “Bizarro Trump?”

In light of the foregoing, here’s another stopgap post while I figure this guy out.

Getting back to the new “Bizarro Trump parlor game…”  The goal in that new game would be to come up with whatever crazy responses, arguments and comments that may pop into your mind.  And which were – or are – the complete opposite of what the real Donald would say.  But as we’ve seen, that’s getting harder and harder to figure out.  But there is one thing this Bizarro Trump could do:  He could blame everything wrong in this country on conservatives.

That would be the “bizarro opposite” of 70 years of hard-line conservatives blaming liberals for everything bad in this country these past 70 years.  (And getting away with it…)  See e.g., Ann Coulter‘s books:  Every Liberal Cause Is Based on a Lie, All Assassins Are LiberalsLiberals are assaulting America.

But Bizarro Trump wouldn’t break a sweat in response.  He’d simply say “No, every conservative cause is based on a lie, all assassins are conservatives, and conservatives are assaulting America!”

See how easy that is?  And conservatives have been doing this for 70 years….

That is, it all seemed to start back in 1947.  Democrats had been in power pretty much since the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, and Republicans had been largely marginalized.  But then came the end of the war, and a strong desire by voters to simply “change horses.”

So for 1947, Wikipedia noted the following transformative events:

On March 12 – “The Truman Doctrine is proclaimed to help stem the spread of Communism.” On May 22 – “The Cold War begins:  In an effort to fight the spread of Communism, President Harry S. Truman signs an Act of Congress that implements the Truman Doctrine.”  Later still – and most ominously – under the heading November 24:

McCarthyism:  The United States House of Representatives votes 346–17 to approve citations of Contempt of Congress against the “Hollywood Ten” after the screenwriters and directors refuse to co-operate with the House Un-American Activities Committee concerning allegations of communist influences in the movie business.  The ten men are blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studios on the following day.

That was followed by a note under “date unknown:”  The already-noted “House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigations into communism in Hollywood.”

In other words, you could say that 1947 was the year conservatives started blaming liberals for everything bad in this country.  And that trend would continue in the election of 1950.  (And beyond…)

That is, 1950 was when “Tricky Dick” Nixon accused his opponent in the California Senate race of being “pink right down to her underwear.” This suggestion that his opponent “sympathized with the Soviet Union” referred to Helen Gahagan Douglas.

As Wikipedia noted, Nixon implied that Douglas was a Communist “fellow traveler.”  The end result?  Nixon won the election with more than 59 percent of the vote, and Gahagan Douglas’ political career came to an end.

Which seems especially ironic given the results of the 2016 presidential election.  (When hard-line conservatives seemed to say it was fine if the Russians affected election results, so long as their candidate won.  And a historical note:  Gahagan Douglas, “in return, popularized a nickname for Nixon which became one of the most enduring nicknames in American politics: “Tricky Dick.”)

But we seem to be digressing…

The idea for this Bizarro Trump came when I remembered an old Seinfeld TV episode, The Bizarro Jerry.  The Seinfeld episode in turn referred to the earlier twin concepts of both the Bizarro Superman and the Bizarro World, as described in by DC Comics.

Bizarro is depicted as having all the abilities of Superman, although these traits are reversed, such as[:]  “freeze vision” instead of heat vision[;]  “flame breath” instead of freeze breath[; and] “vacuum breath” instead of super breath…

In the case of the real Donald, he campaigned as pretty much “the ultimate anti-Obama.”  (Or perhaps the “BIzarro Obama…”)  Which means the reverse-trait Bizarro Trump should be the very model of moderation, cooperation and compromise.  (See “Frankentrump” … Trump [As] Manifestation Of The GOP’s Obstructionism And Extremism.)

But that probably isn’t going to happen any time soon.

Which brings us back to the Bizarro Jerry episode prompting this post.  It showed Jerry, George and Kramer meeting their “weird” – to them – doppelgängersKevin, Gene and Feldman:

Kevin [is] Jerry’s opposite since Kevin is reliable and kind, contrasted to Jerry’s forgetfulness and indifference.  Gene is shown to be quiet, courteous, charitable and well-dressed as opposed to George being loud, obnoxious, cheap and slobbish.  Feldman acts generously to his friends…  He also always knocks on Kevin’s door and waits for him to unlock it[, unlike] Kramer, who constantly takes Jerry’s groceries and bursts through his door without warning.

Now about those doppelgängers.  They’re kind of “bizarro opposites” as well.  For example, Edgar Allan Poe described such a “bizarro double” has having the “sinister, demonic qualities of a pursuer or challenger of the real self.”  Dostoyevsky represented a doppelgänger as an “opposite personality who exploits the character failings of the protagonist to take over his life.”  And in Alfred Hitchcock‘s The Case of Mr. Pelham, the title character “has a paranoid suspicion that he has a double who is slowly taking over his life.”

All of which may sound vaguely familiar to anyone keeping up with politics these days.

In the end, it’s hard to imagine what kind of “real Donald” will emerge over the next four years. (Or less.  See Professor predicts President Trump will be impeached.)  But who knows?  Some day soon we may be treated to a “bizarro” confrontation in politics like the one shown below…

*   *   *   *

Kramer, George and Jerry – at right – meet their “bizarro opposites…”

*   *   *   *

Notes:

The upper image is courtesy of kotobukiya created a statue that the bizarro version of jerry seinfeld would totally get on board with … dailydead.com:  “Standing eight inches tall, this Bizarro anti-Superman statue is based on DC Comics’ New 52 version of the popular villain and will be released in November [2016].”  (Which is actually kind of appropriate…)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the “project [being] more complicated than I imagined,” see the beginning of  the last post, “That which doesn’t kill me…”

Also, as to Parlor games [spelled “p-a-r-l-o-u-r” in the article], Wikipedia defined the term as a “group game played indoors.  During the Victorian era in Great Britain and in the United States, these games were extremely popular among the upper and middle classes.  They were often played in a parlour, hence the name.”

Re: Trump’s promise to “kill Barack Obama’s unilateral actions to shield…”  See Immigration hard-liners angered by Trump’s softer tone “Dreamers.”  

The “Tricky Dick and Pink Lady” image is courtesy of Tricky Dick and the Pink Lady: Richard Nixon vs. Helen Gahagan Douglas …barnesandnoble.com.

Re:  The “old Seinfeld episode, Bizarro Jerry.”  It was the 137th episode, and the third episode for the eighth season.  Originally aired on October 3, 1996, the “title and plot extensively reference the Bizarro (the polar opposite of Superman) and Bizarro-Earth concepts that originally appeared in various comic books published by DC Comics.”

The lower image is courtesy of Bizarro Jerry – WikiSein, the Seinfeld Encyclopediaseinfeld.wikia.com.

“That which doesn’t kill me…”

A portrait of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, by artist Edvard Munch – of whom more later…

*   *   *   *

Bizarro-statue-620As noted at the end of the last post,* my next post was supposed to be on the idea of a “Bizarro Trump.” (An idea based in part on the Bizarro Jerry and in turn the Bizarro Superman, one interpretation of which is seen at left.)  

But the project is turning out to be more complicated than I thought.  That’s mostly because it’s becoming increasingly difficult these days to tell which version of “the Donald” is more weird: Bizarro Trump or the real thing.   So here’s a kind of stopgap post.

The theme for this post is that no matter how bad our current political situation may seem now, we will get through it.  And more than that, we’re going to come out stronger.  Or as Friedrich Nietzsche put it in Twilight of the Idols:  “What does not kill me, makes me stronger.”

And incidentally, the alternate title was “How to Philosophize with a Hammer.”

Will (1982) video tape cover.jpgAnd speaking of philosophizing with a hammer:  Nietzsche’s phrase got some notoriety back in 1977.  That’s when G. Gordon Liddy was released from prison for his role in the Watergate scandal.  And when he was released he quoted the phrase to reporters.  But he quoted it In the original German – “Was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker” – which of course caused those reporters to scramble for a translation.

In turn it should be noted that in the movie version of Liddy’s life – as seen at right – the phrase was translated, “What doesn’t destroy me, makes me stronger.”  See Friedrich Nietzsche – Wikiquote. (Which included another timely quote: “Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen.”  Depending – I suppose – on which party is in power…)

And now for some background:  Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a “German philosophercultural criticpoetphilologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history.”

But unfortunately, Nietzsche’s work came into disrepute after it became indelibly associated with Fascism and Nazism.   Put another way, his “growing prominence suffered a severe setback when his works became closely associated with Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich.”

Nietzsche187a.jpgThat is, one key to understanding – or misunderstanding – Nietzsche was his concept of the Übermensch.  In English the term is often translated as “Superman,” but it’s also translated as Overman, Superhuman, Hyperman, or Hyperhuman.  

Ironically, some scholars have seen the term as referring to a person “willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.”*  Which of course would be a good thing.  But somewhere along the line the idea got bastardized – by other Germans and at a later time – for pure political gain:

The term Übermensch was utilized frequently by Hitler and the Nazi regime to describe their idea of a biologically superior Aryan or Germanic master race [and] became a philosophical foundation for the National Socialist ideas…  The Nazi notion of the master race also spawned the idea of “inferior humans” (Untermenschen) which could be dominated and enslaved;  [however] this term does not originate with Nietzsche.  Nietzsche himself was critical of both antisemitism and German nationalism.

See Übermensch – Wikipedia.  But there are of course differing points of view.

For example, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker | Psychology Today, which noted the irony that Nietzsche’s own life was ” rather short and miserable.”  (So much for his being a “Superman.”)  Or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Really?:

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  Nietzsche, history’s greatest angsty teenage boy, blithely asserted this whopper of an untruth in his 1888 book “Twilight of the Idols…” [But] Nietzsche’s struggle with Syphilis at the end of his life did not make him stronger.  It weakened his body and mind, to the degree that his work was later able to be twisted into Nazi propaganda.

On the other hand, we’re not talking about individuals here.  We’re talking about We the People, the ongoing, undying American entity that survived a bloody Civil War, a Great Depression and two World Wars.  And after each catastrophe, we as a people came out stronger.

And so it will be with our current political situation.  In the meantime there’s this note:  The famous artist Edvard Munch did the portrait of Nietzsche shown at the top of the page.  But he was also famous as the artist who painted “The Scream,” shown below.

Which pretty much sums up how I feel these days, when surveying the current political scene.

(Or after a round-and-round conversation with “Mi Dulce,” but that’s a whole ‘nother story…*)

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The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1906.

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The upper image is courtesy of Friedrich Nietzsche – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Portrait of Friedrich Nietzsche by Edvard Munch, 1906.”

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the last post, see Obama was “our president” too.

Re:  “Willing to risk all for the sake of enhancement of humanity.”  See “Nietzsche’s idea of [an] overman [Ubermensch] and life from his point of view.

Re: “Mi Dulce.”  See ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.

The lower image is courtesy of Edvard Munch – Wikipedia.  See also The Scream – Wikipedia, which noted that  the title was “given to each of four versions of a composition, created as both paintings and pastels, by Norwegian Expressionist artist Edvard Munch between 1893 and 1910.”  One critic described the work(s) as “an icon of modern art, a Mona Lisa for our time.”  The article further noted that Munch did five versions, two in 1893, two in 1895 and one in 1910.  The most recognizable version is said to be the 1893 “oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard,” and is currently located at the National Gallery in Oslo, Norway.

Obama was “our president” too…

An illustration of Karma – where the term “Trumpism,” might be substituted…

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Well, it didn’t happen.  On Inauguration Day we didn’t have another “deja vu all over again,” in terms of a Hard Hat Riot like in May 1970.  (Or – five years earlier – of Hell’s Angels Attacking a Peace Protest.)

That is, on Inauguration Day 2017 we didn’t have history repeating Itself.  (As I feared in the last post, or at least not to the extent of the Hard Hat Riots of 1970.)  And BTW:  The caption for the photo at left reads:

Hard hats on cabinet table after Nixon meeting with supporting construction trades group (05/26/1970) less than three weeks after the New York City Hard Hat Riot.

Meaning this:  A few weeks after hard-hat construction workers beat up peace protesters in 1970 – with lead pipes and crowbars – President Richard Nixon invited them to the White House.  Which leads to this question:  If either “Hard hats” or Bikers for Trump had started beating up protesters on Inauguration Day 2017, would the Donald have invited them to the White House for a similar “victory lap,” like Nixon?  Fortunately, we didn’t have to find out…

Also incidentally, within four years of the Hard-hat riot, Richard Nixon resigned under the threat of impeacnment.  See also That OTHER “Teflon Don,” which wondered back in March 2016 whether – if Donald Trump did manage to get elected – “he may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.”

On other hand, that post also noted that Trump might just surprise us, like that “other Great American Showman, P. T. Barnum.”  (That is, though often called the Prince Of Humbug, Barnum later ran for office and turned out to be a quite effective “public servant.*”)

Which brings us to certain Facebook exchanges in the days after the inauguration.  A Facebook friend (“FF”) wrote, “Donald Trump is now our president.”  (Which of course included an unspoken addendum:  “And so we should all support him even if we voted for Hillary.”)  That led to a couple of thoughts.

First, “Obama was our president too,” as already noted.  And second:  “Where the hell have you been the last eight years?”  But I didn’t respond with either of those thoughts.  As to Trump being now our president I replied, “So was Lyndon Johnson, and we ran his ass out of town!”

The “FF” caught me at a bad moment.

35But that led me to go back and review the moment – in 1968 -when then-president Johnson shocked the nation by saying, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”  (Caricatured at left.)

Ironically, he did so to help “guard against divisiveness and all its ugly consequences.”  He added, “I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year.”  (Which led to this thought: Oh, for an hour of Johnson…”)

That in turn led me to two other web articles:  1) Specter of Lyndon Johnson haunts Trump as President-elect, and New president should remember fates of LBJ and Richard Nixon:

Trump has been elected precisely because most people, including even many people who did not vote for him, understand that the country has declined during the Obama administration – that living standards for the majority are eroding, that the touted national health insurance legislation has only made costs explode without covering everyone, and that the country’s standing in the world has diminished…

Which could lead to this response by “Bizarro Trump.”  (Discussed more fully in the next post and as shown in the bottom image.)  Bizarro Trump would say:  “If America has ‘declined’ over the past eight years, it’s all the fault of those right-wing traitors in Congress!

Luther Martin - Hulton Archive / Stringer/ Archive Photos/ Getty ImagesTo extend that thought:  They’re the ones who refused to deal with Obama; who refused to compromise.  In doing so they violated the spirit of American politics, going back to the Constitution itself.  (See U.S. Constitutional Convention:  Key Compromises, and also Why the GOP Became the Party of No.  That article – from 2012 – detailed “the Republican plot to obstruct President Obama before he even took office.”)

Incidentally, Googling “the party of no” got me some 8,890,000 results.

And that brings us back to karma.  My theory is:  If you put together Exodus 22:28, Luke 6:38,  Hosea 8:7, and the concept of karma, you come up with this:

Donald Trump can’t do what he’s done and say what he’s said – especially as a candidate – without karma coming back and biting him on the ass!

And that brings us back to Trumpism, as illustrated in the top image, a political cartoon from 1918.  (Another BTW:  Googling “Trumpism” got me 606,000 results.)  By substituting “Trumpism” for the term “militarism,” you get the idea that people generally reap what they sow, and that those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.

All of which led me to the idea of a post on a new parlor game, “Bizarro Trump.”  (Based in part on Bizarro Jerry and Bizarro Superman.)  The tentative caption for the lead image below:  “Does this guy look familiar?  (At least metaphorically?)  BTW:  He ‘debuted‘ in November 2016…”

That idea – of Americans using Trump’s tactics against him – will be explored more fully in the next post.  In the meantime, Democrats should probably hone their skill at gutter politics

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Bizarro-statue-620

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Notes:

The upper image is courtesy of Karma – Wikipedia.  It accompanies a segment on the suggestion that the term is “akin to ‘Christian notions of sin and its effects’ …  that the Christian teaching on Last Judgment according to one’s charity is a teaching on karma.  Christianity also teaches morals such as reap what one sows (Galatians 6:7) and live by the sword, die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).

 “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to P.T. Barnum turning out to be an effective politician:

Barnum supposedly coined the phrase “There’s a sucker born every minute,” which sounds like classic Donald Trump.  On the other hand, he served two terms in the Connecticut legislature, then got elected Mayor of Bridgeport, CT, in 1875, where he “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.”  He also favored the abolition of slavery and worked hard for “African-American suffrage.”

Barnum hull image2.jpgSee That OTHER “Teflon Don.”  As to the “Prince Of Humbug,” that link refers to one musical number from Barnum, the Broadway play “based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum.”  The original Broadway production opened in 1980, and was later revived “at the Chichester Festival Theatre from 15 July to 31 August 2013.”  (Which leads to the question:  “A century from now will there be a Broadway musical based on the life of Donald Trump?”) 

Re:  Karma.  It refers to the “spiritual principle of cause and effect.” Wikipedia:

[The] actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).  Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.

Re:  “Oh, for an hour of Johnson.”  The original phrase was “Oh, but for an hour of [Andrew] Jackson.” See History for Kossacks: Election of 1860 – Daily Kos, which – speaking of the interlude between Abraham Lincoln’s election and his actually taking office in 1860 – noted:

Lincoln found himself armed with nothing but words to stop the South from seceding before he could even take office…   President James Buchanan, nearing 70 … looked at the Constitution and saw his hands being tied by a lack of specific instruction.  The cry went up from frustrated members of his own party: “Oh, but for an hour of Jackson!

The image to the right of the paragraph “the ones who refused to compromise” is of Luther Martin, the Founding Father who promoted the Great Compromise that made the Constitution possible.

Re:  The Bible citations and karma.  Exodus 22:28 reads, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”  (As to the last eight years, see “more honored in the breach.”)  Luke 6:38 holds that the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  (In the ISV, “you’ll be evaluated by the same standard with which you evaluate others.”)  Which arguably nullifies the mandate of Exodus 22:28, as to those people who failed to observe it.  And finally – on this point – there’s this gem from Hosea 8:7, “They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind.”

Re:  “Trumpism.”  The noted “606,000 results” included Donald Trump and the Causes of ‘Trumpism’ – The Atlantic.  Those eight causes included Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes – among others – contributing to “raging populism; coarsened culture; bitter, invective-laced politics; demagoguery and nativism.”

Re:  “Gutter politics.”  The link in the text is to Cruz Condemns Trump’s ‘Gutter Politics’ – The Daily Beast.  See also Trump campaign blasts Clinton’s ‘gutter politics,’ and Cruz defends Huckabee, accuses Obama of ‘gutter politics.’

The lower image is courtesy of kotobukiya created a statue that the bizarro version of jerry seinfeld would totally get on board with … dailydead.com:  “Standing eight inches tall, this Bizarro anti-Superman statue is based on DC Comics’ New 52 version of the popular villain and will be released in November [2016].”  (Which is actually kind of appropriate…)

The original “lower image” was going to be the painting at right, of “The senators encircl[ing] Caesar,” and referring to Roman senators literally stabbing Caesar in the back.  (Not merely metaphorically, as has been the case for the last eight years.)  That image would have been courtesy of Julius Caesar – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “The senators encircle Caesar, a 19th-century interpretation of the event by Carl Theodor von Piloty.”  The event is detailed further in Assassination of Julius Caesar – Wikipedia, which includes a similar painting by Vincenzo Camuccini, “La morte di Cesare.”