4 Dead in Ohio

I’m the furthest thing in the world from a Trump apologist. He is a puerile, filthy, degenerate, incestuous pig, a national embarrassment and disgrace.

But I’m old enough to remember May 4th, 1970 when the National Guard (under another Republican embarrassment of a president) used automatic weapons [1] on protesting college students at Kent State, killing 4 of them.

Trump’s minor league compared to that.

1. I went on a live fire exercise once with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg. This would’ve been 15 years ago at least. I’ve never heard anything as horrifying as a machine gun. It’s not “rat-a-tat-tat”, it’s a ripping noise as the hail of bullets tear the air apart. It gives me the creeps to this day. And to use that on rock throwing college students? Inexcusable.

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Sheep and Goats

Since I’m on a biblical tear here at zumbrun.net I’ll offer up another one.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
– Matthew 25:31-46

Our so-called representatives [1] just passed a bill to take health insurance from the least in our country. Not for any good reason, just to score a few political points to pander to their base.

I guess we know who the goats are now.

1.

Jim Banks (IN-03)

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Plowshares and Swords

On this Maundy Thursday, while that jackass occupying the White House and his sycophants spread violence and hate and it seems they are leading us down the road to a global holocaust, I found myself thinking of this verse:

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.

— Isaiah 2:4

Thousands and thousands will die because we put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this incompetent fool. As for me, I’ve laid down my sword and shield and I won’t study war. I won’t fight, and I won’t support or admire those who do.

Enough.

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Not a Happy Place

zumbrun.net is a happy place for me. I write about what gives me joy. But there are times when I have to comment on things that upset me. This is one of those posts. If you don’t like that sort of thing feel free to stop reading now and check back later. I’ll be writing about happy things again soon.

Posts have been going around on Facebook about how we’re all in this together and we all need to support and respect the president. Using the previous 2 elections as an example, if Romney or McCain had won, I’d agree with that position. My political leanings are Democratic and while I disagreed with much of what Romney and McCain ran on, to use P.J. O’Rourke’s phrase, I thought they were wrong within normal parameters. I would’ve respectfully disagreed with their positions, but respected their presidency.

I do not however respect Donald Trump and I do not respect his presidency and I will not support him in any way.

His personal behavior is disgusting. Donald Trump is a pervert and a degenerate. Normal men, even coarse and vulgar men, do not talk about grabbing women by the pussy. They do not boast in print about adulterous affairs. They do not discuss their sexual attraction to their own daughter. His puerile attacks on those who criticize him are signs of a dangerous immaturity.

But does his reprehensible personal behavior disqualify him from being president? After all, by most measures Bill Clinton was both an effective president and behaved personally in a way that was repellent. Does that apply to Trump as well?

It does not. As aberrant as Trump’s personal behavior is, his political views are worse. He is a danger to our most basic freedoms. On the campaign trail, he has vowed to limit our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion. He vows to torture our enemies, jail his political opponents, and restart the nuclear arms race that even Ronald Reagan recognized was madness.

Our country is strong. I trust our system of checks and balances will prevent Trump from being successful in attacking our freedoms. But I will do what I can to help stop him. I just sent a donation to the ACLU, arguably the organization best prepared to block Trump’s attack on our freedoms, and I refuse to support, respect, or even acknowledge Trump’s presidency.

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Inauguration Day, 2017

It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.

Joseph Heller in Catch-22, published in 1961.

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Silent Night

It’s a quiet Saturday night at home. The first really cold night of the year. We have a fire going, Debbie and I are surfing online and reading books. The Wonder Dogs (Owen and Spenser) are sprawled out, happy just to be in the same room with us. [1]

And we’re chatting electronically with friends and family all across the country. We have within reach 2 phones, a tablet, 2 laptops, and a desktop. Depending on the chat medium and the recipients some or all of the devices call for attention with various chirps, whistles, and vibrations [2].

We can tell by the number of chirps, whistles, and vibrations who the message is for and generally what conversation it’s a continuation of. A different pattern of noises has us looking at each other and saying, “who’s that?”

In some ways it’s an annoyance, this constant electronic bleating. I wish these gadgets would be more like my GPS running watch who sits silently on the counter not making a sound. It just blinks its LED display hopefully, wanting to go out for a run but doesn’t presume to intrude otherwise.

But on the other hand it’s nice to be connected with loved ones near and far, and to sit and chat around the electronic hearth.

1. As they are almost every evening. Even so they’re just so happy that we’re all here together. It’s the Best Night Ever! There’s a lesson there.

2. I remember years ago writing a proposal for a system that included haptic sensors to alert the operators when something happened. It was such a cool and novel idea at the time, “cutting edge.” And now it’s just the background of an ordinary Saturday night.

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Election 2016

From Wordsworth to Michael Stipe. It’s hard to believe this song was written in 1987 and not in response to the 2016 presidental election.

It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

by R.E.M.

“…Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn.
World serves its own needs, dummy, serve your own needs.
Feed it off an aux speak, grunt, no strength.
The ladder starts to clatter with fear fight, down, height.
Wire in a fire, representing seven games
In a government for hire and a combat site.
Left of west and coming in a hurry
With the furies breathing down your neck

Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped.
Look at that low playing! Fine, then.
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do. Save yourself, serve yourself.
World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed,
Dummy, with the rapture and the rev-‘rent and the right, right.
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light
Feeling pretty psyched.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

Six o’clock – TV hour.
Don’t get caught in foreign towers.
Slash and burn, return.
Listen to yourself churn.
Locking in uniforming, book burning, bloodletting.
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate.
Light a candle, light a motive.
Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed.
Uh oh, this means no fear, cavalier.
Renegade steer clear!
A tournament, a tournament,
A tournament of lies.
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
And I decline.

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it (I had some time alone)
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine (It’s time I had some time alone)
I feel fine…”

With the sorry result of this election season, I agree with R.E.M. from almost 30 years ago and say,

I decline.

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Calling Icarus

I went to scan a photo tonight. Slapped it on the scanner and pressed ‘Scan’ on my desktop computer…

And got a warning message “No scanner found”. Huh?

I looked at the scanner. It was powered on. I looked at the cables. They were plugged in.

Well, stuff happens. I cycled power on the scanner and tried again…

And got a warning message “No scanner found”. Huh?

Well, pshaw. I cycled power on the desktop, logged in as me, and…

The desktop locked up, ignored all keyboard and mouse inputs.

Rrrrrr, I mashed the power button on the desktop until it shut down. I waited a bit and powered the desktop on again.

I logged in as me, held my breath, and pressed ‘Scan’…

And lo and behold it worked.

The moral of this story is if you really believe Google or Tesla or Ford is going to bring you a driverless car in the foreseeable future, just remember, these are the same people who can’t make a scanner reliably talk to a desktop computer.

Icarus, call your office.

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Keeping it Green

It’s February, months since harvest, months to go until planting. Nothing to do [1] except sit by the fire and think. I’ve been re-reading Wendell Berry’s “Our Only Earth” and I was struck by the following passage enough to get out of my chair [2] and write it down.

The predominant agricultural science of the universities, the corporations, and the government is still almost unanimously promoting industrial agriculture despite the by now overwhelming evidence of its failure: soil erosion, salinization, aquifer depletion, nutrient depletion, dependence on on fossil fuels and toxic chemicals, pollution of streams and rivers, loss of genetic and ecological diversity, destruction of rural communities and the cultures of husbandry.

In the farming community we’ve been nearly united against something called the “Waters Of The United States” (WOTUS), a plan by the EPA to define what waterways may be regulated. We’re enraged by ‘government overreach’, we assert that no one knows better than the farmer how to protect the waters of the United States.

All the time ignoring algae blooms in Lake Erie caused, at least in large part, by runoff from farm fields. Ignore that Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio was unfit even to touch, because of farm runoff.

Sign  posted on Grand Lake St. Marys
Sign posted on Grand Lake St. Marys

Ignore that there is a huge dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi, caused by farm runoff. Ignore that the drinking water in Des Moines is unfit to drink almost half of the year because of nitrogen from farmer’s fields ending up in the river.

Just what I’m thinking about on a February night.

1. That’s a slight exaggeration.

2. And that takes a heap o’ motivation to get me out of my chair, I tell you what.

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Keeping it Clean

I’m not a “greenie,” [1] but I was watching a cooking show tonight, one of my favorites, American’s Test Kitchen. They were making a curry and roasting peppers in the oven. To do that they lined a baking sheet with foil.

I like the idea of keeping the baking sheets clean. We scrub and scrub and scrub ours and they’re still blackened and pitted. It’d sure be nice to have pristine baking sheets that look like new. Maybe I should line my pans.

But if I line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, I’ve not only spent money on the foil, but the foil then has to be thrown away. I can’t recycle it with food baked on it. An irreplaceable natural resource headed for the landfill, all because I wanted a baking pan to look pretty.

I love my pans, I really do. And I wish they looked perfect. But does it really matter how shiny they are?

I don’t think so.

1.

green·ie
ˈɡrēnē/
noun informal derogatory
a person who campaigns for protection of the environment.

Ok, yes, I am.

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