Air Rage

Flying Isn’t What It Used To Be

I remember my first passenger flight in 1959, from Cleveland to West Palm Beach via Jacksonville. It was like a special privilege. Other kids in the neighborhood expressed jealousy. It was only a prop plane, but we were to be served a special meal enroute with china and silverware.

Half a century later, I hesitate to fly any American carriers, mainly because the majority of passengers are American citizens; and I have lost my faith in my fellow Americans. I would rather take a European, Canadian, or Latin American carrier because the people on board are more likely to be better behaved.

Most of the fights that break out are related to the wearing of masks by rabid Trumpites who in their minds (such as they are) think that Covid-19 is fake news. People have to risk sickening and dying because of such asininity?

I like the idea of severe penalties for bad behavior on a flight. If I didn’t have to go through a thorough inspection at the airport, I would travel with a set of brass knuckles to help subdue violent passengers. Fortunately, the chances of needing them are minimal on Linea Aerea Nacional (LAN), Volaris, Air Canada, or Icelandair.

Unless American carriers take decisive action against passengers committing air rage, they will not get my business.

Too Many Freedoms

Maybe Wee Need to Stop Desiring “Freedoms” That Were Never Guaranteed to Us

Look what happened to our Second Amendment. Somehow, the original text—“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”—became in the minds of our dimmest and most criminally inclined citizens an invitation to accumulate military grade weapons for non-militia use.

As school children, we all heard that we didn’t have the right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Now I think almost half the population would disagree with this.

The outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic has created a whole slew of crypto-freedoms, such as the freedom to refuse Covid-19 vaccination or to wear a mask to protect oneself and others from the virus.

I have just finished reading a collection of Franz Kafka’s shorter works that were published during his lifetime. In one of the stories, entitled “A Report to an Academy,” we find this very germane discussion in a speech given by a talking ape:

I deliberately do not use the word “freedom.” I do not mean the spacious feeling of freedom on all sides. As an ape, perhaps, I knew that, and I have met men who yearn for it. But for my part I desired such freedom neither then nor now. In passing, may I say that all too often men are betrayed by the word freedom. And as freedom is counted among the most sublime feelings, so the corresponding disillusionment can be also sublime.

Take a look at the above picture of the January 6 insurrection by Trump’s followers at the Capitol in Washington. This insurrection was conducted by people who have decided to take a lie (that Trump won the 2020 election) and make it into a cause for revolt. Repeating a lie at the top of one’s voice, even when accompanied by violence, is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Such freedoms I can do without!

Billionaires in Space

Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos

I find it amusing that two billionaire CEOs have decided to put their lives on the line and fly their own ships into space. First, it was Jeff Bezos of Amazon; then, Richard Branson of the Virgin Group.

Another “billionaire” comes to mind as a good candidate for space travel—even though his orange hair and facial coloring suggests he might himself be a space alien. Just to be sure, we can put him on a ship to Jupiter. You could click here to find out what would happen to Donald J. Trump on the largest planet in our solar system.

Perhaps sending CEOs into outer space would be a good way of thinning the herd. I’m all for that!

America First?

Dragging Our Flag Down Into the Mire

Sometimes, I think the United States was destroyed by our victory in the Second World War. It seemed that we found ourselves alone at the top of the heap even as we were surrounded by countries in ruins. That’s when the hubris set in. We were free to make mistakes, lots of mistakes, while trumpeting our prowess.

In an article for The New York Review of Books for November 19, 2020, Pankaj Mishra wrote:

In Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Cultural Devastation (2006), Jonathan Lear writes of the intellectual trauma of the Crow Indians. Forced to move in the mid-nineteenth century from a nomadic to a settled existence, they catastrophically lost not only their immemorial world but also “the conceptual resources” to understand their past and present. The problem for a Crow Indian, Lear writes, wasn’t just that “my way of life has come to an end.” It was that “I no longer have the concepts with which to understand myself or the world…. I have no idea what is going on.”

It is no exaggeration to say that many in the Anglo-American intelligentsia today resemble the Crow Indians, after being successively blindsided by far-right insurgencies, an uncontainable pandemic, and political revolts by disenfranchised minorities. For nearly three decades after the the end of the cold war, mainstream politicians, journalists, and business people in Britain and the US repeatedly broadcast their conviction that the world was being knit together peaceably by their guidelines for capitalism, democracy, and technology. The United States itself appeared to have entered, with Barack Obama’s election, a “post-racial age,” and Americans seemed set, as President Obama wrote in Wired a month for Donald Trump’s election, to “race for new frontiers” and ”inspire the world.”

Well, that didn’t happen. We had Trump for four years, and suddenly it appeared that we were headed for the dissolution of everything we held dear, while dumbasses from Red States crawled out of their caves and began to shake the foundations of our democracy.

It’s not over yet by a long shot. The one sentence I remember from my high school civics textbook is, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” So we had best wake up.

Three Modern Day Gods

Romain Gary (1914-1980), French writer, at his place the day before his suicide. Paris, on December 1st, 1980.

There I was, reading the August 21, 2020 issue of the Times Literary Supplement in an article on the Franco-Lithuanian novelist Romain Gary, I suddenly came upon a new pantheon for our times:

  • Totoche, the god of stupidity
  • Merzavka, the god of absolute ideas
  • Filoche, the god of bigotry

The article goes into greater detail:

Totoche is a red-arsed monkey, adored by all who hurry humanity towards destruction: dim politicians who thump tubs, pure scientists who release genies from bottles, social psychologists who lead us up blind alleys, and demagogues who shout and bully. Merzavka is a cossack who stands gleefully, horsewhip in hand, on heaps of corpses industrially produced by concentration camps and torture chambers. Half of us lick his boots and the other half live or die by the religious, political and moral ideologies by which he rules and kills. Filoche is a concierge waiting to pounce on petty infringements of house rules, a hyena scavenging for scraps of racism, intolerance and orthodoxy with which to justify lynchings, holy wars and persecution.

The article, entitled “Brought to Book,” was written by David Coward.

In many ways, Gary’s invented deities were to perfectly describe the United States during the Trump Administration, even though Gary himself had long since (1980) passed on.

Unwoke

It’s the Left’s Equivalent of Jewish Space Lasers

Do I think that Andrew Cuomo should be impeached for being clueless about women? No, because I think most males are clueless when it comes to women; and there do exist angry women who think they should have their heads chopped off. Even the bit about undercounting Covid-19 deaths of nursing home patients is sort of a peccadillo. Let’s face it, our former president would have raped the young women and murdered the nursing home patients through spineless inaction. And moreover, he would have gotten off scot-free.

By insisting that Cuomo be thrown out of the New York governor’s office, people are just being woke. For that, they get one million S&H Stamps, which can be exchanged for a knowing smirk and a small baggie of fresh dogshit.

While the right was inventing Jewish space lasers and Democrats abusing toddlers in shady pizza parlors, the left was, usual, setting up a circular firing squad.

… In Which Democrats Are the Only Casualties

One of the reasons I left the Democratic Party was that I was sick and tired of seeing good politicians fall by the wayside due to political correctness—people like Senator Al Franken of Minnesota. Who gets points for otiose political virtue? No one. We all lose (except for the Green Stamps).

So am I woke? For one thing, I would never use the term in reference to myself. I am no Mother Teresa. I do not wash the feet of lepers. All I do is try to make my way through the labyrinth without destroying myself or it.

Vastness Breeds Craziness

America Divided? Look to the Land and Its Myths

This evening, two thoughts came together in my mind with a kind of grim ferocity. On one hand, I am troubled by the 74 million voters who backed Trump in 2020. Where did they come from? And why?

On the other hand, I read a wonderful essay by Geoff Dyer entitled “Ranging Across Texas” in the July 17, 2020 issue of The Times Literary Supplement. Dyer is one of those writers whose words set me to thinking. Ostensibly, his essay is about his experience reading Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. In it he quotes V. S. Naipaul who, in writing about John Steinbeck, says, “A writer is in the end, not his books, but his myth. And that myth is in the keeping of others.”

My ideas on this are still not well formed, but I am thinking that there is something about the American landscape and its vastness that gives rise to the crazies who belong to the Oath Keepers, QAnon, the Proud Boys, and others. In the narrowness of the European continent, people have to work together at the risk of repeated mutual slaughters. Americans, however, can hole up in a small town in the middle of nowhere and be as crazy as loons.

America is vast, particularly the West and the Great Plains, where much of Trump’s support is concentrated. (The rest is in the South, where the Civil War is still being contested in slow motion.)

In one of his essays, McMurtry writes:

In time I came to feel that there ought to be some congruity between prose and landscape. You wouldn’t adopt a Faulknerian baroque if your story was to be set on the flat unbaroque plains of west Texas.

I remember my visits to Patagonia where, in the rain shadow of the Andes, where there is almost always a howling wind, there is a similar history of crime and even anarchy.

We don’t much celebrate Columbus Day any more, because we are becoming more acutely conscious of the fact that we massacred millions of Indians for their land. In Patagonia, that was even more of a crime: There are relatively few aborigines in Argentina after the “Conquest of the Desert” of General Julio Argentino Roca in the 1870s.

I guess we have always tried to paper over our crimes with fine thoughts. We just have to recognize, in the words of Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy, “Hieronymo is mad agayne!”

21-Gun Salute

Trumpie Wants a 21-Gun Salute, Which Gives Me an Idea

Because he was naturally the greatest president we’ve ever had, Donald Trump wants a 21-gun salute upon leaving the White House. I concur, with the following condition: Aim low and right on target. That way, we could kill two birds with one stone.

The Man Without a Country

The USS Constitution at Sea

As we suddenly find ourselves in the position of fending off sedition and insurrection by a mob of moronic yokels, I find myself in the position of wanting to make a modest proposal. I am irked that these clowns who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were waving the American flag and wearing red, white, and blue even as if they tried to overthrow the government in favor of a criminal president who is about to leave Washington under a cloud.

My proposal is this: There is an 1863 story by Edward Everett Hale called “The Man Without a Country.” It is about a stubborn criminal convicted of treason who is forced to spend the rest of his life aboard American ships on which no officer or crewman is allowed to mention anything about the United States. Perhaps Trump could be joined on such a ship with the would-be insurgents who have been convicted.

What with the global coronavirus epidemic, I am sure there are a lot of substandard passenger ships that could be used for ferrying such prisoners around the world without setting foot back on American soil. It would probably be cheaper than sending them to a Federal prison, and no effort need be made to have fancy food and cocktails or entertainment of any sort.

Hale’s story made an impression on me when I was young. I even remember having a Classic Comic Book based on it.

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909)

This would a a fitting fate for adherents of QAnon, the “Proud Boys,” and other troublemakers who have forgotten what a good deal they had in living in a democracy—one which they intended to wantonly destroy.

Not a Revolution

The Start of the French Revolution in 1789: The Oath on the Tennis Court

Sorry for continuing in a political vein, but the events of the last week have infuriated and energized me. The bozos who invaded the Capitol last Wednesday were not on any mission to represent the voters of the United States. In fact, they were attempting to disenfranchise the majority of American voters who had decided they had enough of Donald Trump and his cheapjack presidential administration.

Trump made much of the fact that 74 million voters were behind him. He totally ignored the fact that 81 million voters were against him. During his entire presidency, Trump only cared for the people that supported him; all the others were nasty haters. He never tried to increase the number of his supporters. Instead, he kept going back to the states that supported him to hold massive rallies.

Has he ever held a rally in Los Angeles? No. He has few supporters here, and lots of enemies (including me).

I fear that Monday, January 20, will see a rather tense inauguration for the presidency of Joe Biden. I certainly hope that he is backed up by armed military units that will be prepared to fire on violent demonstrators, and not the Capitol Police. Trump’s supporters will do nothing for me; they will do nothing for California; they will do nothing for the majority of Americans who voted him out of office.

After 1789, the French Revolution became bloody; but it did get rid of a privileged aristocracy that was bleeding the nation and a clueless king that was as dumb as a post.

Did I say “clueless king”? Hmm, reminds me of Trump. Bring on the guillotine!