Friday, October 27, 2017

cancer gets me up in the morning

cancer gets me up in the morning
cancer brings me to unaccustomed places
where i talk to haughty but dedicated doctors
and smart sometimes absurdly foxy nurses

cancer is travel and new venues
cancer is meet and greet
cancer is hospital
cancer is invitation to biology
and how all these tests
ct-scans mris pet scans
do their thing

as my mri tech said
there's a lot of physics involved

he was a smart guy
from china
who'd been an architect
then a software engineer

and is now an mri pro
whose exact title i forget

have you ever had an mri?
makes the sound of a
rock concert seem muted
led zeppelin wouldn't be heard over an mri

there's this pulsing between the magnets and the electricity
maxwell's equations in hi decibel action
that is dreadful
unless you are a fan of weird electronic music

i asked feng the mri tech
do you like electronic music
but not like that! that's horrible!

feng is entitled to his opinion

getting back to tests
to scanning
espec pet scans
pet short for
position emission tomography

i am left wondering about what positrons
(the anti-matter version of the electron)

can tell the doctors and the nurses
about cancer
my cancer
my wakeup
squamous cell cancer

and intend to look into this

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bannonism . . .

We’ve enjoyed calling Trump a fascist. And he has all the reptilian reflexes, plus the innate grasp of a debased and compliant media that goes with the calling. But reflexes aren't enough; fascism takes brains too, a conception, an ideology, a vision -- however foul.

Bannon brings that to this rolling coup; he brings ideas. Remember that it was Bannon, above all, who crafted the Trump candidacy.

That Bannon is no longer in the WH only empowers him, giving him full leeway to shape the Republican Party into a vehicle for right-wing nationalism, as racist and bellicose as it needs to be.

(Bannon bridles at little wars, that benefit his base not at all. He's right when he calls Bush the worst ever, and tags him for Iraq. Bannon has bigger fish to fry, aims at bigger geopolitical confrontations. Bannon is going after China.)

Maybe this will all blow over and be remembered as a strange glitch in American history before some sort of regression to a democratic norm. Maybe. But I think what's taking shape is a genuine long-term, American style fascist-type threat.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Moshiach or not . . .

The Chinese have a saying: may you live in interesting times. It's intended as a curse. The rabbis say much the same thing when they pray: May Moshiach come and may I not live to see it.

Details about Moshiach aside, there can be no doubt that we are living in dread & interesting times, to wit, among other things: the Republican Party is fracturing.

Lest we yell in triumph, remember this is precisely as  Steve Bannon would want it.

Bannon wants to purge the Republican Party not only of moderates — put paid — but even tried and true right-wingers. He wants to replace them all with zealots and fanatics of the Trump persuasion, committed to crushing the media and civil liberties in favor of a white supremacist mass movement, not averse to some neo-Nazi impetus.

Emphasis here on movement, emphasis on crushing and on Trump as supreme leader and enabler (or as Milo Yiannopoulos calls him "Big Daddy.")

It's time to read some history, and not only American history. Think about interesting times in Europe, while you're at it.

Though the parallels are necessarily inexact and though we have a long way to go before the victory of totalitarianism in the United States, it's worth knowing that Bannon's goal is nothing less than following/guiding Trump into the triumph of Fascism with American Characteristics.

We are living in interesting times. As for me, I see no signs of Moshiach, though some of his supporters think Trump fits the bill.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Megyn Kelly

Something strange and transformative is going on, strange and transformative enough, at any rate, to get me to post in favor of Megyn Kelly.

In a response, Bill O'Reilly said, "never had any problem with Megyn Kelly." So what, Bill? Don't you get it? She's not saying you had a problem with her. She's saying she has a serious problem with you, and, btw, FOX, your network.

. . .

I'm sorry James Toback is being accused of sexual abuse. I'm the kind of liberal who'd rather the charges swept the likes of right winger ideologues like O'Reilly away. But I'm also the type of liberal who thinks, let the chips fall where they may. Even if it means bringing down a divided personality like Harvey Weinstein, who marched for women's rights and contributed significantly to liberal causes, while committing serial, serious abuse. And even if it means opening — but not closing, we don't know yet — the book on James Toback.

I'd rather Toback was not guilty. I'd rather Ben Affleck was not complicit. I'd rather Quentin Tarantino had nothing to regret or apologize for. I'd rather so much of the story was not muffled for so long because women were bullied into silence in exchange for money.

I'd rather not be anxious that a sexual witch hunt is likely to follow in which men are judged guilty without any presumption of innocence, just because they are men. Maybe it's due to my long experience of political extremism that I suspect such a thing is already on the way.

But this is how the story breaks. And let it keep breaking. Let the chips fall where they may.

What's happening is transformative. We're not at the end of it yet, but when we are, things won't be the same, for the best.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Tarantino / Weinstein

Quentin Tarantino

I think I walked out on Django — more predictable QT revenge porn, one great blast of fantastic violence purging or compensating for all evil, Nazism, slavery, what have you — and if not I certainly meant to. But I like, have viewed and reviewed, many Tarantino films, even if they too often lately reduce to Kill Them All.

But my respect for Tarantino as a man was bolstered immeasurably by his comments about Harvey Weinstein. In  a NY Times piece he is quoted as saying, about failure to act on what he kept hearing about Weinstein, even from Mira Sorvino, his lover at one point:

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard . . . If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”

He added:
“What I did was marginalize the incidents. . . Anything I say now will sound like a crappy excuse.”

Not as crappy as dodges or inadvertent and peculiar comments by Ben Affleck and Woody Allen.

I think it's particularly brave for Tarantino to aver that if he really knew then what he fully knows now, he wouldn't have been able to work with Weinstein. It's brave because Weinstein produced, touted and promoted Tarantino, propelling him to the celebrity status he occupies today.

One question I have, and haven't heard addressed: Would Tarantino and films by other of Weinstein’s bravos, have seen the light of day minus Weinstein’s hi-powered, bullying tactics?

Monday, October 16, 2017


There's no doubt that Harvey Weinstein's behavior was heinous and punishable. It's good that he's being reduced to zero, and let that be a lesson to others.

And then there are the onlookers, the buddies who knew and stood by. I'm sorry to think Ben Affleck may be one of them.

They should be confronted, too, here as in every case where passive onlooking is a form of complicity.

But this being the United States let's remember there's always a danger of overcorrection, in this case political correctness run amok.

Political correctness, or some impulse drawing from it,  can be seen when protestors try to deny viewers the right to see Dana Schutz's painting of Emmett Till, and even the right of a white artist to conceive of and execute such an image.

That's the kind of overcorrection for racism that corrects for nothing and is sick in its own right.

In a piece for The Forward, Cathy Young writes

McCarthyism was not a good response to the real problem of communist espionage and infiltration. Sexual McCarthyism . . . is not a good response to the real problem of sexual predators.

The comparison to McCarthyism may be questionable but this being America it's worth considering.

Friday, October 13, 2017

10,000 year old Scotch

10,000 year old Scotch
So after a fulfilling week as president, in which he kicked the supports out from under the Affordable Care Act, raised the chances of military confrontation with Iran, insulted Puerto Rico, and groped Rose McGowan — no, this just in, that was the other (chazar) pig in the news — Trump heads out to a golf course for some much deserved R&R

On the way out, he takes a call from Stephen Bannon, who's gushing.

- Mr. President, I thought you were slowing down but no, you're ruining things faster than I thought possible. The fact that you're old and fat and, let's face it, stupid doesn't bother you at all.

- No! Stupid doesn't bother me. Without tons of stupid, where would I be?

You watch, Bannon. After a bit of golf, just a bit, many steaks and some shots from my private barrel of 10,000 year old Scotch, I'll be back to bust more stuff up. Did you think I forgot about that Korean pudge ball, that cock-eyed dumpling? You wait, I'm going to turn him into kim chi.

- Surprised you know about that Korean delicacy. I thought you were strictly a steak, potatoes, and Melania type of guy.

- Let's lay off the Melania stuff, ok? She's American sure, unlike most everyone in Havana. . .

- You mean San Juan. . .

- Yeah San Juan. But she also speaks Slavilckian. It's a strange tongue, and those people they have moods, they get moodlyy. You ever been around a Slavookian in a moodle?

- No Mr. President, but I'm sure you can handle it. And if you can save me a taste of that 10,000 year old Scotch, I'd be much obliged.

- Can't promise about the Scotch. It's rare. But ruination is sure my thing. And I am just getting the hang of it.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This is a man?

Ecce homo is an old Latin phrase generally translated as "Behold, this is a man." This generally leads to philosophical exposition on the human condition.

Yiddish has a version with a somewhat different slant:

Oich mir a mensch.

This, loosely, translated, means: You kidding, this is human?

The Yiddish came to mind today when my dental hygienist, a fluent Yiddishist, and I were bantering about Trump.

Another Yiddish phrase strikes me as apt: A shtick fleish mit eaigen — A piece of meat with eyes.

"A shtick fleish mit eagen" doesn't only cover walking dead types, zombies and the like; it also refers to moral and mental  absolute zero nothings like Trump who, if I believed in such things, I might construe as a consummate construction of the Devil, something the Teyvl (Yid. for Devil) has sent into our world in order to cause maximum harm.

If so, this Satan ex machina is off to a good start.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Chomsky in the Age of Trump

Chomsky has a piece in The Nation. I'm not going to quote or allude to it because Chomsky to my mind is often too black and white, too Manichean.  

The title of the Chomsky piece, is "Noam Chomsky Diagnoses the Trump Era: The president has abetted the collapse of a decaying system; Chomsky explains how."

Decaying system, collapse.

These were the kinds of things victims of the Nazi regime often said about it, cheering themselves on, hoping that after Hitler something better would come.

Perhaps it did, though most of them, and many millions of others, weren't around to see it.

Chomsky may have mattered to me more once upon a time but now just bit of him is somewhat more than I need.