Author Archives: bbj1969per@aol.com

On my “pain in the back…”

Back-Pain

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

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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 him 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:

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…)  

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

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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.)

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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…

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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

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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…

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

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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…

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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…*)

 *   *   *   *

 

The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1906.

*   *   *   *

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…

*   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *

Bizarro-statue-620

*   *   *   *

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.”

On Hard hats, Hell’s Angels – and Inauguration Day 2017

Are we in for another “deja vu all over again,” on Inauguration Day, 2017?

*   *   *   *

Inauguration Day Clipart | Clipart Panda - Free Clipart ImagesInauguration Day is coming up on January 20.  And here’s a news flash: I Googled “trump inauguration protests” – and got over two million results.

Here’s part of the grab-bag:  Trump rips John Lewis as Democrats boycott inaugurationThe Anti-Inauguration 2017‘Bikers for Trump’ to Form ‘Wall of Meat,’ and The Gathering Storm of Protest Against Trump.

Which leads to the musical question:

“Are we in for yet another “deja vu all over again?”

Kent State massacre.jpgIn this case we can go back in time, to see if history will repeat Itself.  That is, back some 47 years before the upcoming January 20, 2017.  Back to New York City and “a sunny spring day in May 1970.”  There, over a thousand peace activists started a march to protest – among other things – the shooting of 13 Kent State students.  (Four of them died, as shown in part at right):* 

As the Manhattan peace protesters made their way … 200 white, middle-aged, construction workers in hard hats and carrying American flags barred their way and chased the young hippies through the streets beating them with lead pipes and crowbars.  Policemen stood by passively and watched.  More than 70 protesters were injured, and 20 hospitalized.  A few days later president Nixon met with the “Hard Hat Riot” members at the White House to turn a patriotic victory lap. (E.A.)

See Anger Redux | The Huffington Post.  Which – in turn – brings to mind a recent web article: Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.

That article went back to 1965, when a group of Hell’s Angels also staged an attack on an “antiwar protest in Berkeley, one of the first of countless such protests to come.”  (For an ironic note, see “politics make strange bedfellows.”)  But there was a difference:  The president didn’t invite the Hell’s Angels to the White House for a “patriotic victory lap.”

Instead, the president of the Oakland Hell’s Angels decided to end to all future attacks.

That is, on October 16, 1965, a group of Hell’s Angels from the Oakland chapter “attacked a Get Out of Vietnam demonstration at the Oakland-Berkeley border.”  The first clash came at the Oakland Army Terminal, a “shipping point for men and materiel bound for the Far East:”

The Angels attacked…  The existential heroes who had passed the joint with Berkeley liberals [now attacked] the same liberals with flailing fists and shouts of ‘Traitors,” “Communists,” “Beatniks!”  When push came to shove, the Hell’s Angels lined up solidly with the cops, the Pentagon and the John Birch Society.

The protesters had planned to hold another demonstration the following month.  But – fearing further attacks – in the interim a number of liberals including poet Allen Ginsberg – at left – worked to keep the Angels from attacking again.  (Thompson, 244-53)

The result?  According to Angels, Protesters and Patriots, “Oakland chapter leader Ralph ‘Sonny’ Barger … called the protesters a ‘mob of traitors.’”  Nevertheless, he promised to forego further attacks against protesters.  He did so – he said – based on the Angels’ “patriotic concern,” after which he “read a telegram he claimed to have sent to President Lyndon Johnson, volunteering the Angels for behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty in Vietnam.”

The article pointedly noted that the “Angels, at first blush, seemed unlikely patriots.”

Which leads to another question:  If the “Bikers for Trump” – shown above – or other Hard hats start beating up Inauguration Day protesters – with lead pipes, crowbars or otherwise – will the new president invite them to the White House for a similar “patriotic victory lap?”

Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds.jpgAnd speaking of patriotism:  The wise – and oddly prescient – Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”  But it should be noted that he wasn’t condemning either true patriotism or patriotism in general.  Instead he condemned “false patriotism:*”

What he’s calling attention to is that scoundrels, when challenged, will often use false patriotism in order to shut up their opponents.

Which brings us back to Richard Nixon.  (The sitting president who feted the construction workers who beat up the offending “peace activists” in 1970.)  In his case, Nixon had – only two years before – committed an act of treason to get elected president.  That treason resulted in the death of 18,506 members of the armed services in Vietnam.  What Nixon had done was scuttle the Paris Peace Talks,” in October, 1968, solely in order to get elected in  November.

That was the point of last November’s Deja vu all over again?  And the point at issue – that Nixon committed treason to get elected – was conceded by as “arch” a conservative as George Will.  (See George Will Confirms Nixon’s Vietnam Treason.)  

A black placard with white text reading: "KTO NIE PAMIẸTA HISTORII SKAZANY / JEST NA JEJ PONOWNE PRZEŻYCIE" / GEORGE SANTAYANA / "THE ONE WHO DOES NOT REMEMBER / HISTORY IS BOUND TO LIVE THROUGH IT / AGAIN" / GEORGE SANTAYANABut we digress.  And I’m not necessarily saying that Donald Trump committed treason to get elected in 2016.  The point here is that – sometimes to a frightening extent – “History Repeats Itself.”  (Or as Santayana put it, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”)  

But in this case, let’s hope not.

*   *   *   *

That is, in response to actcs of violence by some of his supporters, Donald Trump has told them to “Stop it.”  But Sonny Barger actually got his “supporters” to stop their attacks.

As Hunter Thompson noted, in the weeks leading up to the second planned march on the Oakland Army Terminal, a group of liberals including Ginsberg and Ken Kesey’s “Merry Pranksters” tried to persuade “Barger and his people not to attack the marchers.”  For one thing, Ginsberg delivered a long speech – in the form of one of his famous poems – at San Jose State College on November 15, 1965.

Barger had second thoughts about attacking a march that Ginsberg “obviously considered a right thing.”  But still – referring to the Vietnam Day Committee – “Sonny considered them all chickenshit – and that was that…  So it came as a surprise when,” on the day before the scheduled second march, the Oakland Hell’s Angels held a press conference.

At the news conference, Barger repeated his disdain for the marchers’ planned “despicable, un-American activity.”  Nevertheless, there would be no further attacks, he said, for reasons including that “any physical encounter would only produce sympathy for this mob of traitors.”

Or, as noted in What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country:

Barger, who would go on to survive cancer and prison … never changed his views.  Those “left-wing peace creeps,” he declared in his autobiography, deserved every bruise they got.

All the same, the Angels never attacked another protest.

Wouldn’t it be nice if Donald Trump could do the same thing with his supporters?

*   *   *   *

“The Prez” – Sonny Barger (middle) – saying the Hell’s Angels would no longer attack protesters.

*   *   *   *

Notes:

The upper image was courtesy of Hard Hat Riot: Tea Party of yesteryear – Daily Kos.  (Which has since been “removed.”)  The caption refers to two prior posts from this blog:  Last May’s Is this “deja vu all over again,” and last November’s repriseAnother “deja vu all over again?”  See also Hard hat – Wikipedia, as to the literal meaning of the term, and the Collins Dictionary, as to its cultural implications; i.e., “characteristic of the presumed conservative attitudes and prejudices typified by construction workers.”  (See also, Hard Hat Riots.)

“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 13 Kent State students, see Kent State shootings – Wikipedia, which included the image to the right of the paragraph.  The caption:  “John Filo‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was fatally shot by the Ohio National Guard.”  A further caption reads: “Mary Ann Vecchio gestures and screams as she kneels by the body of a student, Jeffrey Miller, lying face down on the campus of Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio.  On publication, the image was retouched to remove the fencepost above Vecchio’s head.”

The “inauguration day” image is courtesy of Inauguration Day  … Clipart Panda – Free Clipart Images. As to January 20, 2017, see Weather forecast for Trump’s inauguration looks gloomy.

The Allen Ginsberg image is courtesy of classics allen ginsberg american …hellopoetry.com.

Re: Samuel Johnson.  For some of his sound-bites on “the real deal,” see The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page: Quotes on Patriotism.  Re: the false patriotism quote, see What does this quote by Samuel Johnson mean: ‘Patriotism,’ etc.

Re: 18,506 service-members killed in Vietnam after Nixon “scuttled the Paris Peace Talks” in October and November, 1968:  US KIA in 1969 – 11,616, 1969 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1970 – 6,081, 1970 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1971 – 0, 1971 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1972 – 641, 1972 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia;  US KIA in 1973 – 168 1973 in the Vietnam War – Wikipedia.  (Total = 18,506.)

A green brick wall with a white sign reading "Wer die Vergangenheit nicht kennt, / ist dazu verurteilt, sie zu wiederholden. / (G. Santayana 1863–1953, Philosoph)The “history repeats” image is courtesy of George Santayana – Wikipedia.  The caption: “Santayana’s famous aphorism ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ is inscribed on a plaque at Auschwitz concentration camp in Polish translation and English back-translation (above), and on a subway placard in Germany (below).  The “subway placard” is shown at right.

Re: Donald Trump and his “violent” supporters.  I Googled “trump ‘stop it,'” and got some ten million, seven hundred thousand results.  (10,700,000.)

The Hunter Thompson image is courtesy of Kentuckian Hunter S. Thompsonjohncoxtalks.com.

For another post on Trump vis-à-vis the Angels, see Donald Trump and the Hell’s Angel.

The lower image is courtesy of Angels, Protesters and Patriots: What a Long-Ago Skirmish Says About Love of Country.  Re: Barger as “Prez,” see Thompson’s Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga:

In any gathering of Angels … there is no doubt who is running the show:  Ralph “Sonny” Barger, the Maximum Leader…  To the Oakland Angels he is Ralph.  Everybody else calls him Sonny[,] although when the party gets wild and loose he answers to such names such as Prez, Papa and Daddy.

1999 Ballantine Book edition, at page 10.  (Thompson added that Barger was – by turns – a brawler, a fanatic, “a shrewd compromiser and a final arbitrator.”)  See also Hunter S. Thompson – Wikipedia, and On the wisdom of Virgil – and an “Angel,” in my companion blog. 

And finally, this proviso:  “Any resemblance to actual persons” – that is, and comparison to other actual persons – “living or dead is purely coincidental.”  See Any Resemblance to Actual Persons, Living or Dead, is …, and/or All persons fictitious disclaimer – Wikipedia.

Finally, for a more in-depth treatment of the negotiations leading to Barger’s decision to “stop the violence,” see Thompson’s book, Ballantine edition, at pages 244-53.  Six of those ten pages are taken up by Ginsberg’s poem, “To the Angels,” delivered at San Jose State on November 15, 1965, “before students and representatives of Bay Area Hell’s Angels.”  These pages included two ironic notes, the first that for “reasons never divulged, [President] Johnson was slow to capitalize on Barger’s offer and the Angels never went to Vietnam.”  (To engage in “behind-the-lines ‘gorrilla’ [sic] duty.”)  Also:  

The Angels … are rigidly anti-Communist.  [Which adds a third note of irony, given the events of this last election.]  Their political views are limited to the same kind of retrograde patriotism that motivates the John Birch Society, the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.  They are blind to the irony of their role [as] knight errants of a faith from which they have already been excommunicated.  The Angels will be the first to be locked up or croaked if the politicians they think they agree with ever come to power. (E.A.)

Note that a knight-errant was a “figure of medieval chivalric romance literature.”  Such a knight would “wander the land in search of adventures to prove his chivalric virtues.”  The plural would be Knights-Errant, as seen in Sparkler Monthly. 

Some highlights from 2016…

Seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” – symbolized here – was one of my highlights from 2016…

*   *   *   *

It’s New Year’s Day, and so a good time to recall some highlights from 2016.

Johnny Mercer, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (William P. Gottlieb 06121).jpgThere was of course the Election From Hell, but the less said about that the better.  I prefer to “Accentuate the Positive.”  (Referring to the 1944 song with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, shown at left.)  And seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” certainly qualifies as one of those positive 2016 highlights…

Back in August my brother, nephew and I met up in the town of Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory.  From there we drove to Skagway, Alaska.  And from there we hiked the Chilkoot Trail in four days.  (The “meanest 33 miles in history.”)

And here’s a news flash:  There’s a good reason why they call it the “meanest 33 miles in history.”  Mostly it’s because “the Chilkoot” is not a trail at all, but just one big pile of rocks after another.  But it was a man-against-nature venture, and fortunately the “manly men” won. (Though not without some bruises and blisters that lasted for weeks…)  

After that my nephew had the good sense to head back east to begin classes at Penn State.  However, my brother and I proceeded on to a twelve-day canoe trip “down” the Yukon River.  We ended up in Dawson City, also in the Yukon Territory.  But the most “poetic” part of the journey involved two days paddling on Lake Laberge, at right.

Most people know it better as “Lake Labarge,” thanks to the famous poem,  “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”  But that’s only because “Laberge” doesn’t rhyme with “marge,” meaning “shore” or “edge.”  (As in “edge of a lake.”  And further as in the poem’s narrator hauling McGee’s body to the “marge of Lake Lebarge.”)

I figured there was an object lesson there, somewhere…

All in all my brother and I spent five weeks driving up to the Yukon – from Utah – then doing the two “man against nature” adventures, and finally driving back home from the Yukon.  But by far the more traumatic of the two was hiking the Chilkoot Trail.  It was so traumatic that I had to do two blogposts on the subject:  On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!, Parts 1 and Part 2.

One of the highlights hiking the trail came as we three were approaching the summit of the Chilkoot Pass.  (My brother and nephew were way out in front.  And at left is the good part.)  

And what with my lack of depth perception – from having only one good eye – going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers.  Every step was sheer torture, and brought new pain to each aching foot.

So anyway, I had just taken one of many missteps – causing severe pain – and thus let loose a string of pungent epithets.  Then I looked behind me and there – climbing behind me – was a sweet young lady hiker.  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”  But she went ahead and passed me.  (And probably rolled her eyes in the process…)  A short while later I had another misstep and loosed another string of epithets.

Again I looked behind me, and again there was a young couple, including another “sweet, innocent young thing.”  So I said to myself, “Hey, I may be on to something here!”

Unfortunately I tried it a few times later on the trail, but my magic formula didn’t work.  (On the other hand there I did see that “Naked lady on the Yukon,” 10 days later, on August 12…) 

You can see the full story at the “Naked lady” post, which brings up the strong current on the Yukon River.  Generally it’s pretty fast, ranging from over four miles an hour up to seven miles an hour in some places.  (Except on“Lake &^%$# Laberge,” where the paddling is very slow.)

That’s the kind of current that helps you paddle 440 miles in 12 days.  But it also means that when you see something totally unexpected, by the time you recognize it, the current is already moving you downriver…  Which meant that by the time I recognized the naked lady as a naked lady, the current was already pushing me farther down-river.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgWhich is enough – for now – about the naked lady on the Yukon.

Which brings up one of my other 2016 adventures, a return trip to the  Okefenokee Swamp, as detailed in “There he goes again.”  That post – from Monday, May 30 – looked ahead to the middle of the week.  I actually put in 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, June 1, and counted 39 gators in the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)   I never did do a post on that little adventure, which is something I need to do in the next week or so.

As for an excuse, I had “another stinkin’ funeral.”  A close friend died unexpectedly the day before, but I didn’t find out about it until I was already in Valdosta.

Which makes this as good a place as any to end this particular post.  Except to note that there were way too many “stinkin’ funerals” to go to in 2016.  (As noted also in the December 19 post, A funeral and an NTE (Near-Ticket Experience).)

And to note that I didn’t see any naked ladies in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Just at lot of alligator[s] mississippienses…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sun tanning – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “A woman sun tanning on a Portuguese beach.”  Further references are in the blog-posts cited in the text.  And a BTW: Googling “election from hell 2016” got me some 154,000,000 results.

A funeral and an NTE (Near-Ticket Experience)

Image may contain: night

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  In fact it’s been since December 6, when I posted “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night.”   But I have a good excuse:  I had to go to a funeral.

My aunt died on December 7.  She was a mere 80 years old, and so still fairly young by today’s standards.  (Especially as I myself get closer to that age.)  But she had a host of health problems, and so it wasn’t really surprising to get a text from my sister-in-law on December 3.  It said Joan was in the ICU, “critical but stable.”  But unfortunately she went downhill from there.

So I had to attend “another stinkin’ funeral!”  (As we say in our family, having gone through too many lately.)  I had to work up until 2:00 in the afternoon, last Saturday, the 10th.  Then I headed north, making Gastonia (NC) that night.

The following day I had an NTE.  (Near-Ticket Experience, an allusion to an NDE, as illustrated at right.)

I had crossed the line into Virginia about noon, on I-85, and about 20 minutes later some obnoxious guy in a brand-new BMW passed me.  (The BMW was so new it still had the paper-temporary license tag.)  To make matters worse, he did the old “thread the needle trick,” squeezing between two cars – one was mine – as we rocketed along about 76 mph.

At first I was a bit miffed, but then I figured I’d use him as a “rabbit car.”  A Rabbit Car is the mythical entity by which you can go well over the speed limit but not get caught.  The theory is that the police will stop the rabbit car first.

So, we were both barreling along about 85 mph.  I was slightly behind, and in the right-hand lane.

Right there on I-85 in Virginia the median is full of trees and woods, interspersed with service roads between the north-bound and south-bound sets of lanes.

And in one such service road I saw a police car.

Unfortunately the obnoxious guy in the new BMW saw him first, so he slowed down first.  Which meant that I actually passed him before I could slow down myself.

There were seven or eight cars fairly close behind us, so the trooper had to wait to pull out.  But sure enough, in my rear-view mirror I could see him get out on the road and start to follow us.  Then – quite soon after that – he turned on his “rollers” and sped up.

So I slowed down a whole lot, and also tried getting into the “rocking chair” position, nestled snugly between two other cars, one right in front of me and one right behind.

And for a moment or two I cursed my luck.  I didn’t need either an expensive ticket or an increase in insurance rates.  But fortunately the trooper passed me and commenced to pull over the obnoxious guy in the BMW.  (Who by then was about 10 car lengths ahead of me.)

After my heart-rate and breathing got back to near normal, I figured there was some kind of object lesson there…  I may write more about the funeral later, but speaking of object lessons, I got another one a day or two after I got back.

I made it back home from the funeral on Thursday, the 15th.  I worked all day Friday, and Friday night was busy unpacking and getting stuff sorted out.  Then this happened on Saturday…

I was at K-Mart, buying wrapping paper.  It came out to $4.76, so I handed the sweet young cashier a 5-dollar bill and a penny.  She said, “Sir, it’s four dollars and seventy-six cents.”  And I said, “Yes, it is.”  So she said again, real slow,  “Sir, the price is four dollars and seventy-six cents.” I said, “Yes, and I gave you a five and a penny.”

So once again she repeated – pointing to each individual number on the cash register, one number at a time – “Sir, it’s four dollars and seventy-six cents.”  (As noted, she said it really slow, like she was talking to a moron, or an old geezer.  As in, “OMG, this old guy came in today…”)

Naturally my mind HAD been racing with all kinds of thoughts, off in la-la land, your might say.

Part of it was the hectic travel involved in the funeral I’d just been to, and part of it was the upcoming Christmas season, with all the demands that go along with it.  But this little encounter slowed me down.  (“Grounded me,” you might say.)  

I had been on automatic pilot, but now I had to be “in the moment”

So finally I was able to “become the moment,” and explain.  I said to her, real slow, “If I had given you a five dollar bill, you would have had to hand me six coins back.  Two dimes and four pennies.  But by handing you a 5-dollar bill and a penny, all you have to do is give me ONE coin back, a quarter.”  So she said, “Oh…”

I figure that somewhere in this combination of experience there’s yet another object lesson.

But one thing is, one day her generation is going to be running the country.  Like when we’re in our nursing homes.  I mean, who knows? These young people today might end up electing some doofus who’s totally unqualified and untrained to run the country!

Oh, wait…

Or they might do things like rocket along an interstate highway at 85 miles an hour – or more – two cars at a time, on some delusional “rabbit car” theory.

In the meantime, the encounter with the cashier reminded of the cartoon below.

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The upper image is courtesy of Police Car Lights Flashing …police led light bar …galleryhip.com.

The lower image is courtesy of http://lowres.cartoonstock.com/food-drink-koala-koala_bear.”

“I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night…”

Baez stands behind a too-tall podium bristling with microphones, wearing a plaid sleeveless top, longish hair in a feather cut

50 years hence, will some dulcet-toned lass sing “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night?”

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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:

Woodstock poster.jpgA word of explanation:  50 years from now that dulcet-toned lass could be singing that ode to Donald Trump to the tune of “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night.”  Joan Baez sang the original song – about Joe Hill – most memorably at Woodstockback in the summer of 1969.

Another word of explanation.  The day after the last election – November 9, 2016, in case you’ve forgotten – a phrase came trickling up from my memory vault.  In fact, I did a post on Facebook, reminding people of “what Joan Baez said:  ‘DON’T MOURN.  ORGANIZE!

But then I had to explain it was actually Joe Hill who said that, but she’s the one who made the saying famous.  (At Woodstock, “back in our hippie days.”)  As an aside, Joe Hill was both a labor activist and a song-writer, and as such was credited with inventing the term pie in the sky.

(Which could also refer to Donald Trump, but that would mean going off on a tangent…)

So anyway – and to make a long story short:  Today I finally uploaded Joan’s “Joe Hill last night,” and listened to it on my iPod Shuffle as I did my weekly two hours of kayaking.

That’s when I was struck by the line at the end of the song:  “Where working men defend their rights, it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill.”  Which is what makes the resulting comparison in this post so ironic.  (Either that, or incongruous.  I always get those two  mixed up.)

A black-and-white photograph of Donald Trump as a teenager, smiling and wearing a dark uniform with various badges and a light-colored stripe crossing his right shoulder. This image was taken while Trump was in the New York Military Academy in 1964.The thing is, in some strange way Donald Trump – educated at the New York Military Academy, then the Wharton School (at right) and worth an estimated 3.7 billion dollars* – has somehow become a hero to the (white) American working man.

See for example Trump’s fans have more to lose than Trump himself.  That article noted that whatever the outcome of the election, Trump would remain “more or less intact … rich and privileged and more famous than ever.”  However:

The same cannot be said for the millions of Americans who have looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before.

See also Donald Trump a working man’s hero in US coal country.

But the future may not be so rosy for The Donald.  In another line from from “Joe Hill,” Joan Baez noted, “‘The Copper Bosses killed you Joe, They shot you Joe’ says I.”  In DJT’s case, the same professor who predicted – back in September – that Trump would win is now saying that he’ll be impeached.  And in another irony the Democrats won’t be behind the impeachment.

Professor Allan Lichtman recently noted that Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump, for reasons including that he’s a “loose cannon” and that no one know what he really believes.  “He can’t be controlled.  The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.*”

Which – you could say – was what happened to Joe Hill.  The “Copper bosses” couldn’t control him, so they had him convicted of murder in a “controversial trial.”  In Donald’s case, if his party bosses can’t control him, they may resort to impeaching him in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and seeing him convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate.

 (See also – for example – That OTHER “Teflon Don,” which noted – back in March – that Trump “may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.”)

And if that were to happen, Trump would remain forever as a hero to many.  (Untarnished by his actual performance in office.)  As the original song said, “Takes more than guns to kill a man…  Says Joe ‘I didn’t die.'”  And it may well take more than an impeachment-and-conviction to tarnish the Donald’s reputation with the American working man.  

And so the final stanza of  “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night” might go like this:

From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump!

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Hey, it could happen!

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The upper image is courtesy of Joan Baez – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Baez playing at the March on Washington in August 1963.”  See also the “Portrait of Joan Baez in 1961.”

For a live version of the song see Joan Baez Live @ Woodstock 1969 Joe Hill.mpg – YouTube, or Joan Baez At Woodstock: Her Song For Joe Hill (VIDEO).”  For the full lyrics see JOAN BAEZ LYRICS – Joe Hill.

Re:  “Hence.”  I used the term in main caption in the sense of “archaic, of a length of time,” and/or meaning “in the future from now.”  An example:  “A year hence it will be forgotten.”

Re:  Joe Hill.  See Wikipedia, which noted that as a labor activist and songwriter, he was “variously celebrated as a martyr or a villain.”  And as a song-writer, one of his best-known songs was “The Preacher and the Slave,” in which he coined the phrase “pie in the sky.”

Re:  “Memory vauit.”  The link will take you to Confabulation – Wikipedia, which defined the term in psychiatry as “a disturbance of memory, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world.”  (Which could “also again” refer to Donald Trump, but as in the main text “that would mean going off on [another] tangent.”)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.”  Thus, as to the professor predicting Trump’s impeachment, see Professor predicted Trump win, says he will be impeached.

Re: Trump’s net worth.  See Donald Trump Net Worth | Bankrate.com.

The lower image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?airlinepilotguy.com.  See also Flying pig – Wikipedia, which defined the phrase in pertinent part as “an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.”

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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.

On Alice and her restaurant – yet again…

reprise from last December’s Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  

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Last December I posted Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  It included the photo-montage above, but who’da thunk it?  Who would have thought that one of those men – (the guy at top center) – would be elected president, a year later, in 2016?  (And I’m sure Donald didn’t inhale either.)

So once again the question is:  “Can you say prescient?”

But back to the point.  Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited was about a Thanksgiving tradition I started back in 1993.  Listening – every Thanksgiving – to the full 18 minutes and 34 seconds of Alice’s Restaurant.  (The “musical monologue by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie,” released in 1967.)

I do that to “help my team win.”  Just like Moses did, holding his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim.  (At right.)

That is, Moses held his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim to help his team win.  I do the same thing, in part by listening to Alice’s Restaurant every Thanksgiving.  (To help my team beat its hated arch-rival, just like Moses helped his team beat “the dreaded Amalekites.”  For more see On football, Moses and Rephidim.)

But this year is different.  My team is out of the hunt for a national championship, so the outcome of tonight’s game isn’t going to change much.  (At most it’ll be the difference between going 9-3 in the regular season, or “falling” to 8-4.)  So whatever happens tonight, “we” will still have to wait until next year to win “our” fourth national championship.

This year is different because there are bigger events going on in the world outside sports.

The biggest difference?  This country has now embarked on what we might call “the Donald Experiment.”  Which means the question to be decided over the next four years is whether Donald Trump can deliver on the veritable plethora of promises that he made in his recent campaigns.  (First for the Republican nomination, then for the presidency itself.)  

Or whether those promises are merely “negotiable campaign devices.*”

Alice's Restaurant.jpgAnd that’s where Alice’s Restaurant comes back in.  For one thing, the full title of the song refers to the “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” and as Wikipedia noted:

The term “massacree,” used by Guthrie[,] is a colloquialism originating in the Ozark Mountains that describes “an event so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe.”  It is a corruption of the word massacre … but carries a much lighter and more sarcastic connotation, never being used to describe anything involving actual death.

In turn that phrase – so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe – perfectly describes the election we just went through.

But getting back to the song itself:  “Alice’s Restaurant” described the Kafkaesque way that Guthrie managed to avoid the Draft – illustrated at right – in 1965.  Briefly, he was rejected because he’d been convicted of littering on Thanksgiving Day.  There followed his encounter with the “surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street:”

[A]sked whether he had ever been convicted of a crime, Guthrie mentioned the littering incident, and learned that incident was bureaucratically indistinguishable from a violent felony…  In Guthrie’s words, they wanted “to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army – burn women, kids, houses and villages – after bein’ a litterbug.”  (E.A.)

Or as I noted in Alice’s Restaurant, in that song “Arlo Guthrie turned a patently absurd situation into a timeless classic.”  Which brings us back to the challenges raised by a Trump presidency.

To many this last election presents many Americans with a “patently absurd situation.”  But it could also present both a challenge and an opportunity.

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden.jpgOr in the immortal words of Joe Biden (at left):

“Calling it an opportunity is a little like saying:  ‘I’ve been dropped in the water that is shark-infested.  But you know, it’s an opportunity.  If I make it to shore, I will set a world’s record.  No one has ever done this before.”*

So if – on the morning after the last election – you started to feel like the next four years will be something like swimming in shark-infested waters, remember this:  It’s an opportunity!

But we digress…  We were talking about the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree and other such blasts from the past.  Which brings up another point that I made in Alice … Revisited:

Alice’s Restaurant reminds us that – for many folks – those good old days weren’t so good[, as seen in the] image at right: “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”

Segregated Super Bowl 1955And here’s that image, of “segregated seating …1955.”  You can see the full image at Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited, but the point I’m wondering about is whether we’ve made any progress at all.

Or – to put it another way – there always seems to be a significant segment of Americans who keep wanting to drag us back into the past.  And that’s true even though for many people, “those good old days weren’t so good.”

So it seems to me the slogan “Make America Great Again” carries an implied proviso:  “That is, ‘great’ for the people who did have it made back in the good old days.”

But just for kicks, how about this slogan instead:  Make America Better! 

As in, make America better for all those people who didn’t have it so good back in those “good old days.”  Or for that matter, those people who don’t have it so good right now.  And how about working to Make America Better by fulfilling that promise on the Statue Of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And that brings us back to the election we just went through.  In some ways the outcome of that election is perfectly illustrated by this, The House GOP just took the whitest selfie ever:

The House GOP surrounds VP-elect Mike Pence in this extremely bright, white selfie

Which brings up this observation:

“Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry…”

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The upper image – which I borrowed from Alice … Revisited – is courtesy of courtesy of Liberal group claims Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, others are draft dodgers.  “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.” Thus, as to Trump’s promises being negotiable or campaign devices, see Before taking office, Trump signals campaign promises are negotiableAll the Campaign Promises Donald Trump Has Broken in the Last 24 Hours, and/or Trump backs away from some of his strident campaign promises.

The “Draft” image is courtesy of Draft evasion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption, “U.S. anti-Vietnam War protesters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  A placard to the right reads ‘Use your head – not your draft card.’”

Re: The image “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”  In Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited I noted an anachronism, a “chronological inconsistency.”  That is, “the first Super Bowl was not played until 1967 – not 1955.  (The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.)”  The image in question – and the “Super Bowl 1955” caption with it – came from ivman’s blague.  The “blague” or “blogue” – apparently French for “blog” – is about “one French professor’s humorous and serious perspectives on life.”  (And specifically, his post on the Good Old Days of Yesteryear.”)  Accordingly, even though the “Super Bowl 1955” caption was written by a cheese-eating surrender monkey – who got the timing of that ostensible Super Bowl wrong by a full decade – the photo is real enough…

The Joe Biden quote is courtesy of Ethan Bronner‘s book, Battle for Justice:  How the [Robert] Bork Nomination Shook America (1989), Anchor Books edition, at page 211.

A final note:   I borrowed the quote beneath the lower photo – “Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry” – from On rectal thermometers and “you’re entitle.”  That referred to an essay by Harry Golden, involving “our sense of American ingenuity,” the law of unintended consequences, and a concept he called “gradual integration,” referring once again to those “good old days:”

In the emergency room of the Alachua General Hospital at Gainesville, Florida [in 1962], there are three thermometers.  They stand in a row on a small shelf with nothing else.  The first is in an open container labeled:  “WHITE – ORAL,” the third is in an identical container labeled, “COLORED – ORAL,” and the middle one, which protrudes through a cork, in its otherwise sameness, is labeled “RECTAL.”  This is what I call gradual integration.