Monday, Jul 15th

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Boilerplate for the Utopian Ant

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Every four years, like clockwork, two enormous trucks back up to the public troughs.  One slaps in various slime and slop, while the other one glops in some assorted goo and gorp.  Then, diners are left to choose between the two evils.

Oh, sure -- there are some sweet, well-intentioned people who drop by now and again to offer a bucket or two of much fresher food that's far better looking, smelling, and tasting. But everyone knows a bucket or two won't stretch very far, not up against these industrial-strength, corporate sludge movers that deal in mountains and not mole hills to fill public troughs.

Before you know it, everybody's been taken to market, as in the old nursery rhyme.  Only thing is, the "market" looks suspiciously like voting booths filled with easily-hacked, paper-trail-free, shaky and uncertain, electro-mechanical vote takers.  Not only that, there's no chance to go wee-wee-wee, all the way home.


Let Them Eat Slippers? Zap My Pants? Celebrity-what?

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Reality is confused enough these days.  Perhaps if we try to overload it, and blow all its fuses and circuit breakers, we'll pop clear out at the other end, in some sort of sane, prosperous, sensible nirvana.

Let's give it a nudge and try this one:  Yes, someone paid $65,600 for a pair of Marie Antoinette's slippers.  Green and pink silk.

They fetched five times more than auctioneers thought they would get.  They were flooded with bids from around the world -- which should give you some indication of the number of people sitting on oversized piles of cash who are hopelessly clueless about what might be constructively done instead with any of those Scrooge McDuck, dollar-sign-sporting, canvas-bag heaps they're using for sofas.


Another Round of Hoarse, American Style

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Round 2 of the Predictably Over-hyped and Inappropriate Over-talking Shouting Match between The Professor and The Spewer is now over.  Now, maybe our national, throbbing-temple meltdown of a migraine will back off a bit.

It is a good time in America to drop to your knees, break out the secular hallelujahs, remember there is only one more of these things left to go, and be thankful for this Second Gasp of Conclusion.  (While you're down there, do you mind checking if that's a stain, or just the lighting in here?)

Once again, candidates were able to shout themselves raw in the peculiarly childish American game of political basketball -- this one spelled HOARSE.


Reminders of Our Place in the Freak Show

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Words and language are odd things: They can make us howl in laughter, or, change the arrangements, they can cast us into a pit of despair.  Then, time went by, and we all more or less made it out of third grade psychologically intact -- but it was close for some, right?

If you kept both those extremes conceptually close, you're probably well-armed for everything else that followed.  However, as we are all spiraling in on dementia, sooner or later, maybe some memory-joggers of those old survival skills will prove useful.

If you are at all fascinated by language, for example, you have to love it when someone gifts you with enough descriptive ammo to build a phrase like, "Romney's a flip-flopper, a stripper, and a flipper."  All we're missing is The Gipper.  Or not, as it turns out.


Pigeonholing Dragons While Waiting on Answers

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The secret to seeing clearly, as anyone who's operated binoculars knows, is not only which end you look through and where you point the thing, but how well you adjust the focus, too.

The same process is helpful when asking questions, sorting information, and attempting to do any meaningful pigeonholing.  It's also helpful to not stuff dragons and griffins into slots better sized for sparrows or starlings.  But, it can be exhilarating to try.

Take a wide-angled view of fascists, for example:  They have a long history in America and abroad -- Germany and Italy, of course.  But, the fascists of today are not like those our fathers and grandfathers fought here and abroad.

In the 1930s, there was a near coup d'etat in Washington, D.C. that failed during FDR's time -- a wolf pack of fascist bankers and financiers were the basis of that one, just as there were similar (and sometimes the very same) corporate forces maneuvering in Germany and Italy.


Republican Math Invades Europe!

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At first glance, it's a jaw-dropping shock -- and then, the longer you stare at it, trying to peer into its mysteries, it becomes even less real than that.  Like poking smoke rings with a fork.

And, quite a lot like the wildly erroneous math used in recent years by the GOP to justify pet projects while pretending things really -- wink, nudge -- add up.

It appears some of that same logic is seeping into Europe:  A woman in France received a telephone bill for almost 12 quadrillion euros -- about 9.25 quadrillion U.S. dollars.

Yes, of course, it's a goof -- one of the more spectacular ones, sure to join the ranks of other astonishing math blunders of its type, right up there with the more subtle, but equally eye-popping, misplaced-or-missing decimal point in the contract, or a spot where "or" should have been used versus "and," followed by billions in shaken foundations.

In this case, the dazzling math goof in phone billing was more than 6-thousand times France's annual economic output.

(Yep, sounds like the Romney-Ryan math team has been there, all right, advising company accountants and programmers.)


Driving Reality and the Fireball Effect

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There are moments in life that make us gasp and seem to stop time in its tracks, submersing us in clear Jell-O -- and then time starts up again, at 1/20th speed.  All the while, at the restart, you know something is horribly wrong, and that you're in real trouble.

You've had those moments:  The tick of the clock when you feel the pit of your stomach leaves and falls through the floor, the temperature instantly plummets to sub-zero.  Yes, and the instant you're sure you're in a car wreck,  already in motion, patiently waiting for final impact.

Sometimes, it's the same feeling, but on a different scale:  The first time you saw initial impacts at the Twin Towers.  That first moment of hearing Kennedy had been shot -- both of them.


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