The End of An Affair

Joe Bruns
Joe Bruns

It is hard to put a precise time on when I fell out of love. There was no big argument or momentous event that caused a sudden rift in our relationship. Instead it happened gradually, imperceptibly. But I have now come to terms with the fact that she is no longer a central part of my life. We stay together, mostly out of habit. But I no longer cherish waking up with her every morning and finding her fresh, entertaining, and endlessly interesting.

I do remember falling in love with her, though. It was the mid-seventies. It was love at first sight. This was the Watergate era in Washington. She had an uncanny inside access to all the sordid details as the scandal unfolded. Every day I looked forward to hearing what new facts she had uncovered in her deep, throaty voice. My, she did know how to tell a story. She also had wide-ranging interests. In addition to politics and world events she could spellbind with the depth of her knowledge in culture, the arts and sports. She loved her sports. She was a booster and a fan and seemed to enjoy them all, going beyond just knowing the scores and statistics, providing smart and colorful commentary about anything from the Redskins to high school rivalries.

She seemed to know everything that was going on in Washington. She may not have cared very much for the suburbs, but she knew the city, its movers, its neighborhoods, its flaws and its characters. Everyone who knew her had a favorite topic and was eager to learn what she knew. She was quoted at power lunches and solons throughout the day.

While she was older than I, she had youthfulness and an enthusiasm that was infections. At times her opinion seemed to color her judgment, but for most of us that was part of her charm. We matured together over the years. She had her rivals at times, but was never threatened by them, especially on her home turf. She knew she knew she was the real star, and could therefore just ignore them as they came and went from the scene.

She was also generous and compassionate, she noted births and attended funerals. When tragedy struck she could be counted on to offer assistance, and always knew the right thing to say to bring understanding and comfort. But she could also deliver criticism when needed, a wake-up call where she saw injustice.

The eighties were her ‘Hollywood’ phase. She made new friends, many from California and the West, who exuded glamor and style more than intellect. But the men were handsome and the women beautiful. In the nineties, she had a fling with a younger man, a ‘bad boy’ who was able to charm her in ways that allowed her to overlook his flaws. When his past caught up with him and his star faded, she stuck with him and defended him against his detractors, though I could see she was hurt.

But then things began to change. Without noticing it at first, but seeing it now in retrospect, her freshness wilted. Her stories, which once rivaled those of Scheherazade, began to seem repetitious and stale. Her eloquence began to fade; she made grammatical errors that broke the spell. Worse, I began to realize that I had often already heard the stories she was now telling. Sometimes, I even heard them from her the day before. She was less engaged in the world and began to simply repeat what others were saying. She said there was a web conspiring to bring her down. She began to go to bed early, and seemed to be indifferent as to whether she had anything new to say or not. Her opinions, once fresh and insightful, now were entirely predictable, cranky, even boring. Those she invited in to share opinions consisted of the same people who had been around for years, seldom anything or anybody new was present. And when someone new was added to her circle, it seemed more for the label than for the wine. It was clear that her world was changing far more quickly than she either desired to or could. Some say she suffers from poor circulation, and others have suggested an extended trip, perhaps an adventure to the Amazon will revitalize her. I don’t know, but for me the old magic is gone.

Old love dies hard. She is still part of my life, just not as important to me. I no longer consider her my window to the world, and sometimes find myself ignoring her entirely. But we had some great times together over the years. There is always that.

I miss my old love and companion …
The_Washington_Post

A Very Very Vile Virus

Jamie
Anyone who has been around me for any length of time knows that I don’t like people. Not people as individuals but people as an overwhelming crowd, and quite frankly, we need some crowd control. Unfortunately, I was born in paradise. California in the 1940s had about 8 million people. The last time I was there, it had 40 million. As Gertrude Stein said when she tried to go back to Oakland after a long absence: “There’s no there there.” Or to echo Joni Mitchell they paved Paradise and put up a parking lot. That realization and a sensitivity about the environment made me look at the population of the globe.

We have just been through the Ebola scare here in the US and the outbreak continues in a few countries in Africa. It is estimated that the current outbreak in Africa until contained will hit 10,000 deaths per day.   Will 10,000 deaths per day put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance. Combine it with flu pandemic, a few tornadoes, earthquakes, Monsoons, and multiple wars, will it put a dent in the crowd? Not a chance.

If not a single child were born for the next 30 years and the death rate continued on the same current level, we would only be down about 1.5 billion people. There would still be about six billion left.   All of those people, the majority of which are perfectly good human beings who love their family and friends just want to go about their business of working, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and making love to make more babies. There really isn’t anything wrong with them except that they exist.

Because they exist, they strip forests for farmland. Because they exist, they pour the products of their civilization into the oceans. Because they exist, they are destroying the habitat of all the other species on the planet. Because they exist they want to stay warm or cool. They want to cook. They want to run their machines. They want their sewage to go elsewhere. To do all those things, they strip the land of coal and oil. They drain the aquifers that took millions of year to fill. They pour carbons into the atmosphere.  They heat and acidify the oceans. Quite frankly, they are really, really dirty and due to modern technology, the majority of them are useless and replaced by the machines they created.

For several million years, the human race trundled along with less than a billion people. Then they discovered germs and viruses. Magnificent! We can cure. We can save. We can keep people alive. We can fix the broken and weak among us who used to die. We can do something that no other species that has ever existed can do. We can save ourselves. Aren’t we wonderful? OOPS! We forgot to lower the birthrate to one child per couple. The chart below shows the result of that mistake.

So here is the question. How do we save the environment? Save the human race without some sort of “Soylent Green” solution?

poplulation

– Jamie is a Trail Mix contributor.

Durst: One Man, One Vote

Will Durst
Will Durst
Will Durst on the Texas voter ID law (upheld on Saturday by the Supreme Court):

“Whiners. Bounders. Ingrates. Talking about the incessant griping and sniping currently buzzing over long overdue Republican reforms requiring citizens to produce a government issued ID before casting a vote. From the outcry you’d think the GOP was organizing competitive kitten clubbings. Again.

Face it, the problem isn’t not enough people voting: it’s too many people voting. Time to go back to literacy tests and poll taxes. Restricting the vote to white male Protestant landowners. They’re the ones who run the country. The ones with the most to lose. Oh sure, the constitution states that voting is a right, but it’s also a privilege. Barnacles don’t determine where the whale swims, do they?

Freedom isn’t free. And the rich have the resources to pay for elections. We could set it up so the more they spend, the more votes they get. Until eventually the guy with the most money ends up running things. That’s they way they did it in Europe and they turned out okay. What the hell, we’re at least halfway there.”

Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed political comic based in San Francisco. He is the author of Elect to Laugh! A Hilarious, Common Sense Guide to American Politics

Bear Baiting in Maine

Nash 2.5

What’s the #1 Election Issue in Maine? Bear Baiting.

Here’s how it works.   Out-of-shape middle-aged guys from Boston and New York City are willing to spend a couple of grand a piece to come up to Maine to “hunt” a bear.  That’s big bucks to the locals.

The city guys don’t actually do any real hunting, of course. Black Bears in the wild are very alert and very clever, so they are difficult to hunt, unlike deer and moose which are really dumb.

bearbaitingSo … an entire industry has been developed by “Certified Maine Guides” to accommodate the bear-killing needs of these affluent customers. “Bait” (day-old donuts are popular) is placed in locations near guest lodges, and the guests, dressed in color-coordinated LL Bean hunting clothes, are driven, in rugged-looking extended cab pick-up trucks, to a spot where they can  conveniently shoot at the bears, without too much exertion.   (Many of the guides carry cardiac defibrillators in their trucks, just in case.)

All of this was fine for decades until a bunch of “whining out-of-state environmentalist nuts and animal lovers” got a voter referendum placed on the November ballot, to ban the practice of Bear Baiting. (Actually it was native Mainers who did it, with a little bit of financial help from national organizations, but that’s not what the talk radio audience wants to hear.)

In addition to regular political ads (i.e., for governor), Mainers have been bombarded by “pro” and “anti” Bear Baiting ads for months.

Here is a short video on the politics of Bear Baiting, explaining why having this issue on the ballot may help the Republican candidate for governor (LePage) and hurt the Democrat (Michaud). Michaud is ahead in the polls, at the moment.

What’s On Your Ballot?

— Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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Use It or Lose It

Patd
As a nation, our voting muscles are withering away from lack of use and the muscle-bound money bullies are kicking sand in our face.

It’s not just disenchanted baby boomers, according to a Harvard University Institute of Politics study “less than one in four (23%) of Americans under the age of 30 say that they will ‘definitely be voting.'”

We arsande voting booth wimps when compared to other democracies. For instance: “The United States’ 2012 elections was marked by a low voter turnout with 57.5% of voters going to the polls. Compare that to India and Malaysia where more than 80% of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2013.”

How do we build back that voter muscle? Is there a dynamic tension solution like the one Charles Atlas promised comic book readers?

Obama Sidelined

The President might as well toast marshmallows at Camp David for the Midterm Election. No Democrat in a tight race — and plenty in safer contests — want him around. Perhaps it’s not as bad as LBJ’s end-of-term isolation, when he could only get applause from soldiers at military bases who probably feared court martial if they didn’t.

What’s worse for Democrats is how much fun the GOP is having by associating their foes with Obama.

Check out this ad by Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, which is saturating TV sets these days. I saw it four times in a single 30-minute newscast last night here in Orlando, and across the dial all day and night. Just think, if Obama were at all popular this could be a Charlie Crist ad:

The Politics of Ebola

Nash 2.5
Fear: it’s really all the GOP has these days.

Fear of terrorists, fear of immigrants, fear of socialism, and now fear of the Ebola virus.

Millions of Americans have become cowards, shivering under their beds, clutching their assault rifles, which are not much use against disease, by the way. (They would be better off if they just washed their hands after using the bathroom.)

Forget about rational discussions about why the (profit-driven) U.S. healthcare system is simultaneously becoming more expensive and declining in quality. (Profits?)

fearLet us instead devote 24/7 mainstream media coverage to shallow analysis about “how we can protect ourselves from the threat of Ebola.”

Over at Fox News the message is clear: somehow this is all Obama’s fault.

If the GOP gains control of the Senate in November, it may be because of a tiny virus you need an electron microscope to see.

Here is the trailer for “Outbreak” (1995), about an Ebola-like disease epidemic.   They should run this film 24/7 on cable TV for a few days, and then we can all talk about Ebola more intelligently.

– Nash 2.5 is a Trail Mix Contributor. Read More by this author.
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New World – Not Ordered

Blue Bronc
Screwed.

Does everybody remember my little post regarding me having email accounts hacked? Well, let me say that was not all.  The other day the great state of Maryland let me know that they say I did not have insurance on my car; that such lack of insurance was $150 plus $7 per day while I was lapsed.  Oh, that is due to a bounced check says my insurance company.  Moi,  oh I did not know that was the problem, I did not know this was happening.

Today’s post brought a letter from the loan provider of my truck, rather rude and abrupt but as pleasant as a threat letter can be, that I had no insurance on my truck and that I need to provide proof or “they would provide the insurance,”  A call to my insurance provider, “. . .not in the office, your call is forwarded to. . .”  After that rather informative discussion, it turns out that I in fact did not have insurance.  Something about my credit card not active when charged.

It turns out all this occurred at the time my accounts were under attack and my accounts with accompanying credit cards and check cards were being changed. Those changed due to being under attack.  And, for hilarity, I will have new accounts in the coming week due to being under attack by bad people who have information from companies I do business with having the accounts breached.

I will be talking to several companies and government agencies this coming week.

This most difficult part of this is when I relied on companies to let me know in person something was wrong. I did not expect the companies to only send out “automatic letters” and let the onus of problems fall on me.  My previous experiences with these companies had been on personal reach out, but then those were in different states.

Lessons learned, change companies when those you hire to do your business do not give you a personal touch and support you when things go wrong. Especially in this new era where companies are hacked and your personal information is sold to high buyer.

Okay. So let us review:  change passwords; use 12 or more characters; use upper and lower case, numerals and special characters (password generators help); change companies if you are not supported; talk to all agencies you can to explain your plight; hire an attorney if necessary.

Now you will be asking yourself “What the bloody hell does this have to do with me?”  Your accounts can come under attack because you shopped at a retail store, such as Target or Home Depot.  We are in a new world.  Will our politicians do anything?  A rather more on topic question is “can they do anything?”

Simplistically, some say use cash.  Sorry, it is not always usable online.  Write checks, they cry.  Sorry, checks not accepted.  Use your credit card online.  Sure ‘nuf.  screwed on that one.

Politicians will not save you.  They pass laws for reasonable people.  Those who attack your checking accounts or credit cards do not care about laws.

– Blue Bronc is a Trail Mix Contributor

Hillary: Take The Money Or Don’t Run

She’s got to run or piss off every Democrat out there. Because whether by design or coincidence, party donors are refusing to commit to anyone else until Hillary Clinton reveals her decision. Time is running out for any other Democrat to muster the resources for a credible campaign. Few, including Joe Biden, can even afford a few nights in Iowa without substantial funding. Hiring qualified staff is almost out of the question. What a huge disservice this would be to her party if Hillary doesn’t run, unless she makes it clear immediately that she isn’t running.