What does America Need?

US-CapitolNOTE: This was originally written for a fellow blogger’s challenge to produce a post focusing on ‘what America needs’ when the 2016 election is, finally, behind us. As is my wont, I didn’t let our future elected officials off lightly. And you can bet I’ll be re-visiting this topic again, and probably again a couple of more times, between now and the end of October, 2016.)

Regardless of who wins next year’s presidential election and the accompanying House and Senate races, the victors (plus ongoing members of Congress) need to deal with a number of serious issues.

It should be clearly evident to all of them, not least because of the massive sums being spent on 2016 campaigns, that something needs to be done about how political races are staged and funded. The “Citizens United” case, which oddly declared that corporations are the same as people, where political contributions are concerned, needs to be upset – with corporations being put back in their proper place: As businesses, not as people.

And the primary system, which requires candidates to endlessly – for well over half a year – flit back and forth between two tiny states, is not only cost-ineffective, it’s also hugely unfair to all the other states, because by the time it’s their turn to express an opinion at the polls, the candidate pool usually has been winnowed down to a point where real choice has been eliminated.

Both of these issues could be resolved with some responsible activity in a highly partisan Congress.

New legislation could declare that [A] voting in all political elections in the U.S. be restricted to human voters, [B] primary elections for the offices of president and vice president shall be conducted regionally, with the westernmost of four voting regions includes Alaska, Hawaii, Pacific territories and all states between the Pacific coast and the states of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico; the ‘Far Midwest’ region including all states between the latter four and Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi; the ‘East Central’ region comprising the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and West Virginia, and the ‘East’ region comprising Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Puerto Rico and [C] primary campaigns for federal (president and vice president) offices shall be limited to a maximum of two calendar months per voting region, and general elections for those office shall be limited, nationally, to a maximum of three months – for a total of eleven months of campaigning between primary and general elections.

Note, please, that I included voting rights for American territories – including, it would appear, from the voting rights status District of Columbia residents, Washington D.C.

Not only do U.S. citizens born and/or residing in America’s Pacific Islands territories, those in American Samoa are not even identified as citizens: They are, according to their U.S. passports, ‘U.S. Nationals.’

Still, “American Samoa is noted for having the highest rate of military enlistment of any U.S. state or territory; As of September 9, 2014, the local U.S. Army Recruiting Station in Pago Pago was ranked first in production out of the 885 recruiting stations and centers under the United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC), which includes the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, The Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Korea, Japan and Europe,” according to Wikipedia.

If ‘we’ are going to call the people of our Pacific island ‘possessions’ citizens, we need to provide them all the benefits of citizenship – including voting rights. This is a no-brainer, and a virtually-no-cost option that Congress, in its lack-of-wisdom, has been overlooking for decades.

I talked above about the structure of elections. Here’s how they should get paid for: Through the elimination of various unnecessary tax breaks – such as those on long-term capital gains, the step-up in basis rule, and the carried-interest loophole – federal, state, county and municipal level elections shall be federally funded – with no donated funds permitted.

(Some of the funding necessary for federally-paid-for elections could also be raised by dramatically cutting the $18 billion NASA is receiving in Fiscal Year 2015. Alternatively, cuts in even that agency’s original budget line, for $17.5 billion for FY 2015, could support a not-a-bad-idea reduction in “laying the groundwork for major new astrophysics and planetary science missions,” as Space.com described the agency’s plans.

(That report cites a number of planet exploration projects underway or planned by NASA – at a time when [A] there is little if any reason to think it would be possible, or practical, or sensible, for man to venture – within your grand children’s life time – to planets NASA is so anxious to explore now (or soon), and [B] demands (mainly by Republicans) to cut federal spending could recognized through the trimming or eliminating of NASA’s budget – despite the fact that the agency’s spending “boosts the economies of every state in the U.S.,” according to Wikipedia.

(That spending also represents federal subsidies, across the states, of as little as $1.6 million in Vermont up to $3.79 billion in Texas. Are such ordinarily-unidentified subsidies a good thing, or do they represent part of the reason why we, as a nation, spend so much more than we take in?

(NASA’s $18 billion budget may represent, as it roughly does, a mere 0.5% of the federal budget – way down from the 4.31% it was in 1965, when the Gemini IV earth-orbiting flight included the first-ever ‘walk in space’ (by Ed White) – but no matter how you look at it, $18 billion is not small potatoes.

(The lofty initial objectives for NASA, created through the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, were loftily expanded in 2012 through the addition of the objective to ensure “The preservation of the United States preeminent position in aeronautics and space through research and technology development related to associated manufacturing processes.”

(That revised National Aeronautics and Space Act also dictates that, “Congress declares that the general welfare of the United States requires the Administration to seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space.” [Section 20102, subsection (c).] That seems to imply that this legislation was intended to authorize the government to subsidize commercial ventures in space – a kinda-sorta stretch on the responsibility of government, and another stretch in the direction of subsidies in support of non-government entities.

(But while that aim most certainly is supported by the closing (‘of the people, by the people and for the people’) line of President Abraham Lincoln’s amazing, 274-word Gettysburg address, I doubt this is what that speaker had in mind. His was a tough speech, in a difficult time, and his mission was a massive one: To try to help a nation reunite.

Congress also must pass (and the President must sign) legislation instituting a national ban on assault rifles, automatic (or ‘machine’) weapons, grenades and all other weapons made for and intended to be used in wars and other armed conflicts. This legislation must also outline procedures to reduce the risk other long and hand guns will come to be possessed by mentally unstable and otherwise potentially dangerous individuals.

Neither of these gun-related proposals in any way impinge the Second Amendment rights of individuals to ‘bear arms’, as that Amendment has been interpreted to date by The Supreme Court. But between them, these two proposals could help curb the carnage that included, in the first 274 days of this year (2015), the day of the community college shooting in Oregon, some 294 mass shootings.

So, basically three proposals as to ‘what America needs’. That, and treating the Muslims (and Hindus, and Sikhs) among us with the respect they disserve, would be a good start.

There is, of course, much more that needs to be done to get ordinarily-sensible people to resume thinking that way – to get outrageously wealthy industrialists to accept that they really, really, don’t need to amass an even greater fortune, to get extreme commentators on the public airwaves to calm down, get a grip on themselves, and work to Rodney King’s prescriptions: Can we all get along?”, and “We can all get along; Let’s try and work it out.”

That, in two phrases, says a whole lot – about where we’ve been, and where we need to go – about what America needs.

Advertisements

The Truth About The Wall Plan of Immigrant-Basher Trump

greatwalloftrumpImagine his surprise, when Trump-the-immigrant-basher, who happens to have married two of them, learns that the wall-to-wall Wall he’s promised would keep more hispanics in the U.S. than it would keep from getting in.

A new analysis by the Pew Research Center, using data from both the U.S. and Mexican governments, shows that, as well as being at its lowest point since the 1990’s, the inbound flow of Mexicans to this country actually is surpassed by the outflow – those returning from here to there.

Their report says, in part:

To calculate estimates of how many people left the U.S. for Mexico, this report uses data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics, [ENADID], and the 2010 and 2000 Mexican decennial censuses. Each asked all respondents where they had been living five years prior to the date when the survey or census was taken. The answers to this question provide an estimated count of the number of people who moved from the U.S. to Mexico during the five years prior to the survey date.

A separate question targets more recent emigrants—people who left Mexico. It asks whether anyone from the household had left for another country during the previous five years; if so, additional questions are asked about whether and when that person or people came back and their reasons for returning to Mexico.

To calculate estimates of how many Mexicans left Mexico for the U.S., this report also uses U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (2005-2013) and the Current Population Survey (2000-2014), both adjusted for undercount, which ask immigrants living the U.S. their country of birth and the year of their arrival in the U.S.

 A Majority of Mexicans leaving the U.S. to return to their homeland do so aiming to reunite their families — many members of which never left Mexico.

Because hispanics tend to be very family oriented — many who’ve come to the U.S. continue to provide financial support to relatives they left behind — one could presume, though there are no apparent studies to prove it, that immigrants from south-of-the-border countries other than Mexico also have a tendency to follow their desire, and move back home.

That would, if true, say that people from all countries in Central — and perhaps even South — America presently are exiting in greater numbers than they are coming in.

And, as another counter to the oppose-immigrant rants of Trump and others, those who do stay — legally or otherwise — tend to make a strong effort to meld in, acclimatize themselves, and become involved members of their communities.

Parents encourage their kids to get educated — and take active roles in helping them do so, just as a sizable share of U.S.-born parents do.

(I’ve seen this dynamic in action, where the mother in a hispanic family I spent some time with, when I was selling life insurance, often was found, when I entered the house, to be helping her youngest daughter with homework.

(In an unusual twist, an older daughter in this household, still a teen, chose to leave her father, step-mother and sister in Virginia to resume life in Mexico, where she was born. She’d apparently met a boy there during a visit, and wanted to be with him. In next to no time, she was pregnant.

(I’ve had no contact with the family since then, but I remain curious how her life is playing out. Perhaps he had/has a good job and supports her well, and she could be living more comfortably than she was in Virginia, where she and her family lived in a small house owned by the sawmill where her father worked — nearly half an hour from the nearest store of any size or substance.

(A ‘country store’ a couple of miles from them offered basics, and little more.

(The girl who left seemed to hold herself aside from her Virginia family a lot. It’s possible — even likely, from the evidence — that she never really adjusted to life in the U.S. That certainly is an issue with many who come here for a ‘better life’.)

(‘Better’ is relative: To economic, social and comfort-level conditions. Central/South American kids who are brought here do not come of their own volition — they had no choice. They were snatched away from family and friends, often at ages (as pre- and actual teens) when ‘social change’ is particularly difficult for them to deal with.)

I can understand adults, too, wanting to return to somewhere closer to their families — their ‘homes’. Making a life for yourself and your family in a ‘foreign’ country is tough; I’ve done it, once successfully, once not so, in the U.K.  I (and my first wife) did well the first time, until inflation ran up to 26+ percent, and we said we don’t need to put up with this.

We’d never intended to leave — thus try two, a few years later, but the still-poor economy there, job wise, and an illogical, corresponding rise in housing prices, caused us to give up after a year trying, really hard, to find a likable place we could afford to rent in several London suburbs, and to find steady work sufficient to support ourselves. (I had some freelance income from articles and a newsletter I produced, but it wasn’t enough, on its own, to keep us going.

As a journalist, I’ve spent time in a lot of countries where I had poor if any language skills. Blending in, linguistically, can be tough — as a lot of immigrant hispanics find here. So I have some idea how difficult it must be for Mexicans and individuals from other poor, Spanish-speaking areas to adapt to life here.

But still, they come. Not to rape and pillage the countryside, as Trump would have you believe, but to make a better life for themselves and their families.

It’s too bad the illogical immigration laws in this nation of immigrants makes it so difficult for them to do so.

2020 Candidates, 20-70 Vision

gop_symbolThe 2020 presidential campaign, in which unseated Republicans will stand in opposition to … well, just about everything … is off to a smashing start.

Aspiring contenders are pretending, during what’s being passed off as the 2016 presidential campaign, that they actually wish or hope to ascend, as a result of the president election cycle, to the world’s most powerful bully pulpit – a concept, that a person in a position of power can speak out, powerfully, and be listened to, on just about anything, pretty much wore out its welcome in Barack Obama’s first term in that position.

Truth be told, none of the Republicans presently participating in a competition to see who can expel the most hot air – and do the most harm to the planet as they fly, mindlessly, from one baby-kissing event to another – stands as good a chance as a Syrian refugee of achieving their alleged goal.

To a man – and a woman, including Carly Fiorina, who has both a vagina and huge enough balls to image she’s even remotely qualified for the position to which she aspires – the pretend candidates for the Republican presidential candidacy role in 2016 (for an election nearly an entire year from the first Tuesday of this month!) have uniformly, and outstandingly, disqualified themselves via inane remarks, positions and, no less significance, the mere fact that they, each of them, has had the gall to do what they’ve been doing.

But then, perhaps Bill Maher (host of HBO’s ‘Real Time’)  is right: This country’s absurdly long – and criminally costly – presidential election process is a good thing, because if it were as short as Britain’s, or Canada’s, mere weeks in either case, we could be facing four years of a President Trump.

While I tend to agree with many of Maher’s opinions, I totally disagree with this one. Simple reason, people – potential voters – are perfectly aware that who they support, or say they support, at this point in a ludicrously long, largely pointless process doesn’t particularly matter. Sure, a lack of support for some candidates will cause them to drop out – as might their inability to maintain the spending pace of a few others.

But still, you have to wonder why the media continues to pander to the pitiful positioning of those who would, god help us, be king – or president, at the very least.

Jeb Bush is a joke candidate both because, simply, he’s a Bush – and who wants another of them in a position of real or imagined authority? – and because he’s an imbecile, with an incredibly long string of outrageous positions, including a horrid level of support for the death penalty.

Marco Rubio doesn’t ‘own’ a coherent position on anything, other than cutting defense spending and a lot of other critical budget portions. (Admission: I’d cut defense spending, too, simply because [A] it’s out of control, and – among other things – [B] we really, truly need to get the fruit out of the business of trying to protect and ride heard on the whole world.)

While it’s truly sad that so many innocents are being killed in Syria through actions of a truly wicked person, we absolutely cannot, as has absolutely been demonstrated in recent months, kill either the Assad assaults on his own people or, as or more important, the ISIS rot that, unfortunately, is being viewed as somehow related to Syria’s ‘issues’.

ISIS, a close cousin of al qaeda, is a beast of our own making.  We, to mix metaphors, stirred up the bees’ nest in Iraq, did huge amounts of damage there (and very little good, at the cost of billions of dollars!), which resulted in the creation – or expansion – of one of the most extreme organizations with a supposed base in a faith, Islam, in this instance, that the world has ever seen.

Ted Cruz, whose close-to-unbelievable positions include opposing churches providing abortions (did any of them ever do that?), support of a ban on military gay marriage and, like Donald Trump, support for a ‘wall’ to deny immigrants from south of entry. Ironically, Trump is himself an immigrant, having been born in Canada!

On Monday (Nov. 23), Trump joined Carley Fiorina in declaring that, if elected, he would reauthorize water boarding, a form of torture eventually banned by George W. Bush, but not until the process had been much used/abused by people working for him.

And so on and on it goes – and will continue to go, with the ‘conversation’ undoubtedly sinking to ever-lower depths of depravity and sheer stupidity.

And the saddest fact of all is, it’s all but impossible to ignore the whole mess, because of the media’s repeated rehashing of the rubbish being spewn forth.

Enough, already – at least until sometime next summer.

Name a Pronoun for a Single Transgender Person (Hint: It’s the ‘Word of the Year’ for 2015)

No matter how their parents, schools and friends, early on, identified them sexually, people who view themselves as neither male nor female – transsexual, in other words – now semi-officially have a personal pronoun of their own: They – or ‘the singular they,’ as it was put by the Web of Language Distinguished Usage Panel, which unanimously declared, recently, that shall be the Word of the Year for 2015.

Hosted by noted linguist Dennis Baron, the Web of Language (his blog’s name) is widely recognized within the world of linguists as a leader on things linguistic – particularly, but far from exclusively, linguistic things in or concerning English. His panel includes . . . well, no one but himself, Baron admits in a ‘Truth in Advertising’ note at the end of the current issue of his blog.

But Baron himself, a professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, most assuredly is an expert in the field of linguistics (and, to a number of children, on when dinosaurs were extant and people were extinct: See his children’s book, ‘When People Roamed the Earth’.)

His growing list of books includes one published in 1986 (Yale Univ. Press) entitled ‘Grammar and Gender’, and his list of essays ranges over such topics as translations of the national anthem (‘Jose Say Can You See’) and other ‘official’ documents; how poorly equipped such entities as the CIA are to comprehend what terrorists and potential versions of same are saying (‘Help Wanted: Pashto’) and how wars so generously provide us with new words and phrases (‘Words and War’).

That list also includes, in a discourse on poorly purposed tomes on grammar, writing and misplaced commas, a retelling of the wonderful “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” joke – also the title  of a British best-seller, eleven or so years ago, that, Baron points out, is as often inaccurate as accurate and, by the way, misses the point of the joke: It and similar witticisms, he says, “are meant to be spoken; The ambiguity – the humor – is in the ear of the beholder.”

There’s nothing humorous, to a transgender person, in being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’ or the opposite. To such people, there is no ‘opposite,’ there’s actually a different — a ‘third’, or neutral —  gender.

This is not quite the same thing as when someone refers to themselves in the ‘royal we’ sense – as if they weren’t speaking about themselves as an individual but as something greater, numerically.

While politicians take much delight in talking about themselves, they seem to take even more delight in referring to themselves as plurals, perhaps, subconsciously, as if doing so will earn them the plurality that could sweep them into (or back into) office. (They shouldn’t count on it!)

That comment, regarding politicians, is, of course, a generalization, one most definitely proved to be so by a web site offering ‘36 Donald Trump Quotes that Prove He Can’t Be President’ – the first of which is, and I quote, “I have a great relationship with the blacks.” The list’s author – more than likely a politician or wannabe – responds, “Unless the Blacks are a family of white people, we’re not so sure.” (Emphasis mine!)

Trump consistently refers to himself in the first person (I or me), but what else would one expect from an individual is so totally self-absorbed, so totally impressed with his own wealth (specifics of which he doesn’t seem to actually, or accurately, know), his accomplishments (given that he built all he has on the back of a multi-million-dollar bankroll provided by his father), and his personal charm (such as it is — to most people, a total joke).

Transsexuals are as they are because that’s who and what they are, not, as some would have you believe also of gays and lesbians, as a matter of choice.

A gay or lesbian individual may choose to be identified via a personal pronoun usually used for a person sexually oriented as he or she clearly isn’t.

Until Dennis Baron’s  Distinguished Usage Panel confirmed the growing use of ‘they’ as a personal pronoun transsexuals could, individually, claim as their own – their identifier, as it were – they were, as neither fish nor fowl, left floundering.

Except, of course, Caitlin Jenner, who early in the process of a physical transformation from one defined sex to another (even while, reportedly, still possessing a male ‘package’) comfortably shifted from one ‘standard’ personal pronoun to the other – as did much of the media covering ‘they’.

Odd, that.

 

The Statue of Liberty Was A Muslim? ‘The Daily Beast’ Seems To Think So

[Top: A Bartholdi statue concept  not intended to live in N.Y. Harbor.]

Sometimes writers (and speakers, and thinkers…) go to odd lengths to make a point. Sometimes they actually get around to revealing (or discovering) what their point was intended to be.

The Daily Beast is not in a position to do either of the latter – figure ‘it’ out, then reveal it, not necessarily in that order – regarding a recent article by Michael Daly (who usually shares a point with his intended audience) headlined “The Statue of Liberty Was Born A Muslim.”

The source of his ‘evidence’, such as it is, is not revealed – though there actually is some. But none of it is on the Wikipedia site outlining the history of French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, Liberty’s creator, or that of the statue itself. Daly says Bartholdi intended this statue (rather than a totally different one, as Wikipedia says) to represent “a Muslim peasant woman [who was, as a statue] to have stood at the approach to the Suez Canal, a lantern in her upraised hand serving as both a lighthouse and a symbol of progress.”

However, Bartholdi “proved unable to sell the idea to khedive of Egypt, Ishma’il Pasha,” Daly said. (A khedive was, in Egypt in the early 19th century, a ‘viceroy’, a self-proclaimed ruler.)

Interestingly, no less a source that The Voice of America posted an article in October of last year saying,  “That’s right, the world’s most recognized symbol of freedom and the American dream, was originally intended for Egypt, which ultimately rejected if for being too old fashioned.”

That decision, Dora Mekouar’s article went on, “came as a disappointment to Lady Liberty’s creator . . . who’d envisioned the Suez Canal as the ideal venue for his mammoth harbor structure.”

She said, “He was inspired by the Sphinx and the pyramids and the idea you could create something massive that could almost be eternal,” quoting Elizabeth Mitchell, who brings Bartholdi’s quest to life in her book Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty. (Grove Atlantic, its ‘independent literary publisher’, says on the book’s web site that it was due to be released in paperback – supposedly after a hard-cover run – in July, 2015.)

Meanwhile, history.com’s entry on the statue sticks closer to the better-known (than Mitchell’s) story, relating that, “Around 1865, as the American Civil War drew to a close, the French historian Edouard de Laboulaye proposed that France create a statue to give to the United States in celebration of that nation’s success in building a viable democracy. The sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, known for large-scale sculptures, earned the commission; the goal was to design the sculpture in time for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence [which is, in fact, celebrated on the tablet in the statue’s left hand, where Bartholdi inscribed “July IV, MDCCLXXVI, thus association the date of the country’s Declaration of Independence with the concept of liberty].”

Unfortunately, raising funds for the statue (in France) and the pedestal upon which it would sit (in America) proved difficult, so it wasn’t until October 28, 1886, that U.S. President Grover Cleveland presided over the official dedication ceremony.

It appears that The Daily Beast’s Daly was, in the wake of the Paris bombings by Islamic terrorists, attempting to help smooth some waters and establish in readers’ minds the idea that long have been favorable ties between France and the U.S. – and they should now grow stronger, rather than weaker, as we work together as nations (and people) to bring terrorists to justice and strive, in all the ways we can, for a more just, more fair, world.

A noble mission muddled, a bit, by a bold, more than likely somewhat inaccurate, opening concept.

 

It’s Been An Exhausting Few Days

I’m tired. Tired of the horror. Tired of senseless terrorist crimes. Tired of beheadings. Tired of seeing people burned to death, locked in cages. I’m tired of politicians who will do anything to violate their oaths of office and shut down this country’s government.

Tired of seeing yet another story of people being made to die “while they’re having fun – eating in a restaurant, listening to a concert, watching a soccer game – freedoms we take too much for granted,” as Madonna put it in Stockholm on Saturday night, after refusing to cancel her concert and “let them win”.

I am tired of Donald Trump’s foolishness, and his wall. I am tired of Ben Carson and his disbelief in science, his denial of global warming and – yes – his belief that ‘gayness is a choice’. I am tired of Charles and David Koch (who couch the pronunciation of their name as if it were a soft drink), who, despite having more money than god, for some reason believe it’s a good idea for them to accumulate more.

I am tired of “Dr. Oz” being revered as a reputable man of science even as he  abuses his position to hawk a spectrum of products only slightly less obnoxiously than the late Billy Mays, an admitted product-pusher, promoted Oxi-Clean.

I am tired of televangelists, who must send hypnotizing waves through their radio and TV broadcasts – there’s no other possible explanation for their totally incredible success at luring in followers and their dollars – of the likes of Creflo Dollar, who told his flock that ‘god wanted him to have’ a $75 million  “long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft [as] a tool that is necessary in order to fulfill the mission of the ministry” which “is centered,” he says, “on biblical principles directly from the Word of God.” (And as George Strait put it, about his ‘ocean-front property in Arizona,’ “If you buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in, too.”)

I am tired of wondering how Louisiana, even as the one-time stomping ground of Huey Long, saddled itself with Bobby Jindal – who, in the official ‘Republican Response to President Obama’s Speech to a Joint Session of Congress on Feb. 24, 2009’, gave the most inane, close-to-insane speech the country had heard since the 1963 day when Governor George Wallace stood in a University of Alabama doorway preventing the school’s integration by two Black students.

I am tired of being reminded – fortunately infrequently – that there ever were and continue to be followers of something known as Insane Clown Posse, perhaps better described here.

I am tired of being impressed – negatively, as it happens – that there have been, in the not-distant-enough past, entertainers billing themselves as Ice T and Ice Cube, names almost as dopy as at least a couple of those adopted by Calvin Broadus, Jr., who I delight in referring to as Snoopy Dog DoDo.

(Whatever happened to good singer/group names such as The Ink Spots, Dion and the Belmonts [based on the Bronx street where two of the four lived], and The Rolling Stones [who just keep on, despite all odds, an amazing 53 [fifty-three!!] years later, doing so). (I once worked near, and hung out in a pub only a pedestrian-bridge walk from, one of the first venues they ever played – on Eel Pie Island in the Thames, a few miles west of London.)

Isn’t it time that we Imagine something better? That we Give Peace a Chance? We, as the human race. We as occupants of a delicate planet that – quite foolishly, with little regard for the children of the children we are producing in far too great numbers – we are destroying. We who fight small and huge battles that, by their nature, can never produce, without a frighteningly large loss of life and property, even a semblance of a ‘win’ for most of those who’ll have to put the pieces back together again – even as the warmongers and politicians and their ilk march, never innocently, toward the next war.

Madonna was right: We can’t let “them” win – steal our freedoms, destroy everything supposedly-free people hold dear.

The ISIS mob, even the home-grown evil-doers and wannabes; The supposedly sane among us most seize the moral compass, right the ship of state, and never let them win.

Alright, this is going TOO far: ‘Temporary’ uterus transplants are coming for infertile woman near you!

Medical science sometimes moves in strange and not always wonderful ways.

The New York Times reported on November 12 that (some) women who now can’t soon may be able to co-create a child via a ‘temporary uterus’ — which, once progeny is produced and delivered, will be removed.

Excuse me? You’re going to implant a sort of fake body part then, um, de-plant it? ‘Makes me think of the deal with asparagus:  You plant it one year, then ignore whatever it produces the first year, so you can enjoy what it produces for the second and a few more years — but sort of not. (Truly, I can’t imagine an analogy for fitting a person out with a ‘new’ part that, in time, will be removed. Even Ripley’s ‘Believe or Not’ would have a problem with that.)

Note: I happen to have a strong bias against people producing more people for the sake of doing so — because “they love each other”, because “We’re going to be old, someday, and we’ll need someone to take care of us” . . . or whatever.

The world’s population is, and has for a couple of decades, at least, been growing at a level that’s unsustainable. China’s recent recent decision to do away with it’s ‘one child only’ policy is going to exacerbate the situation — as the deforesting of millions of hectares (each being 2.4 acres) of land in Africa and elsewhere is contributing to the destruction of wildlife habitat and, ultimately, species that might, if there were a grand plan. have some place in it.

Humankind — which, truth be told, is hardly kind to itself — has long since woven the hand-basket in which it will advance to its next home.  (The operative phrase is ‘going to hell in a hand basket’, as we most certainly seem to be.)

There are few advantages to growing old, as I rather rapidly am (with the wrap-up of my 73rd year merely two months and two days, as I write this, in the future). But one is that it’s no longer necessary to read reports of long-range local or federal plans for whatever, or to be concerned about federal budgets with effects kicking in 20 years down the road.

People born in generations with names (X, Y, Millennials ) will have to sort all that out — or, as their predecessors have done, kick problems down the road . . .to one or more future generations.

But if something isn’t done to halt global warming and the damage it’s doing, generation-namers could be put out of work within the next few A’s, B;s, C’s or whatever. (Where do you go when you’ve identified an age group as ‘Generation X’? Start over, alphabetically?) Wouldn’t it be nice it there could be a ‘Post-Global-Warming’ generation?

I think I’ll heat up some water for a cup of tea.