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The World’s Most Endangered Species April 16, 2020

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
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I think it started out innocently enough – maybe not globally, but where a ‘wet market’ is an okay cultural thing to do.  (Called ‘jinbo’ ; in some parts of China it is a tradition that is said to insure good health).  Eating a live bat or mouse is not for everyone, but I have seen actual photos of young women doing it, so it is done and obviously with gusto.   Quite frankly, I find bats kinda’ cute but I am also well aware of what they harbor and what they can spread.  Covid-19 is likely just another in a long list of pathogens they carry.  This known fact, about bats, however, would keep  me away from fooling around with them.  I have eaten live creatures – on the half-shell, but I no longer eat those due to the possibility of flukes.  Doctor’s orders.  Sigh.  Yes, I miss them, but I also digress.

The novel coronavirus – now called COVID-19 is a doozy.  A killer, unbigoted, and brainless virus that has no shame, sense or consideration for the humans (and possibly some animals) on Earth.  And  is a potent reminder that this is our only planet.  Despite our fantasies and realities, this is IT.  And never has total devastation been excluded from our fate.  When apes stood up and walked we brought forth a brand new chapter in the long history of this globe.  And I daresay, not a very benevolent one.  I suspect cavemen did bash other cavemen over the heads and that cave wives were dragged by the hair.   And I am not entirely sure how we happened to stand up and start to ‘evolve’ into humankind.  We have nothing to go. by.  Nothing that explains it and nothing to follow.  So I imagine that any belief is okay.  And I think it is possible that there is no reason and that it was an anomaly of the Cosmos.     The fact is that when we looked up at the cosmos, we invented what we saw to suit the moment we saw it.

I don’t think  this was exactly unexpected.  Or at least the possibility of it happening ; some time in the future was usually how it was qualified and discussed – but it didn’t come with a time frame and so we humans just kept on doing what we have always done.  I think in legal terms it is called ‘reckless endangerment’ and we have come to the point where we do it without a second thought. And at this point it has been weaponized, monetized and deadly, daily.
When I was a girl I learned that a bird had gone extinct.  My frame of reference for extinction was the dinosaur. The idea of a bird – in recent history disappearing, was not only terrible, but unique.  And its name, The Dodo, gave it a hint of stupidity; this ‘dodo’ bird stopped existing.  How dumb.  And we laughed when it was mentioned. We did not have in mid-century an endangered species list (we made up for lost time on that one) and then we did.  Creatures great and small were disappearing.  They did not commit suicide either or kill each other.  Humans had stolen their habitats and hunted them for sport and their numbers started to drop.  And to drop very fast.  We had exploited the planet for everything it had and we kept looking for more to loot. Stealing irreplaceable creatures and resources.  Climates started to change – but ‘not really’ we said, it was just a Chicken Little scenario that had very little basis in fact.  Except it was fact – aerial views of the planet provided illustrations of what we we doing.  Mainly for profit. And indeed the rich got richer and the poor got poorer  – just the way it had always been.  Just the way we did things.

As a species we snatched and grabbed everything and anything we could.  Using terms like ‘traditional customs, cultural/religious beliefs and  scared practices, we kept on shooting and maiming and raping and burning and dumping more and more and more.

Fascinating, rich people decided we could terraform ‘local’ worlds and settle them if the heat got too high on Earth.  Or the cold got too cold.  The shores might disappear and ice might melt, but by that time we would be colonizing airless planets and starting over.  To do more of the same. After all we had just entered a new century where nothing was impossible.  Artificial Intelligence (using whose as a template?), our new best friend the algorithm, text messaging, face time and driverless cars.  Yowsa.  Instant alerts on just how this brave new world would operate for the best future of mankind.  To never have to open a door, turn on a television, tell the time or entertain a single independent idea because we had Alexa and Siri and we had it made.  So we could be our authentic and best selves.  And since we would own this future, we had no need to worry.

And who are we now; the clever inventors and techies, the code writers, the extremely forward-thinking humans reliant on manufactured assistants to do their bidding?  The thieves of childhood and imagination and thinking outside the box? Wearing masks and gloves and staying alone inside.  Daring each other to go to the shops, risking our lives to go mail a letter And in some cases listening to the insane ravings of a leader who has no right to lead, but won’t go away.  Accompanied by the hiss and whoosh of ventilators, all over the planet saving us for more death and destruction?  I wonder.

Will any of this change the future of those brave, mighty hunters shooting innocent creatures to stuff for their walls.  And children who have stopped running and jumping rope and laughing because they have avatars to kill on the couch.  And who might still get sick and die if they went out unprotected. Viruses have strange lifespans.

Smug, self-important humans.  Believers, fantasists, power mad dictators, humanitarians, deniers, bigots, oppressors, saviors.  Writers and lawyers and doctors and folks who won’t think of others and won’t wear a mask.  This is exactly who we are.  And many of us sensed this coming, just not now.  and Surely not the day those lovely young women and their human chums went to the wet market and ate a live bat.  Do you need an introduction?  We are humanity, the most endangered species on Earth.

The Sorceror’s Apprentice 2020 December 30, 2019

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
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When I was a girl – about twelve, I discovered science-fiction.  Always a skeptic as far as presumed wisdom and dogma was concerned – even at a younger age, the  sci-fi authors I loved were Theodore Sturgeon, Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov.  Alas I did not find Arthur C, Clarke until later ; when I did read and re-read 2001, 2010 and 2030 several times.  My mindset was simply if they could think it up and write it- it could come to pass or already be so.  I still feel this way.

Which brings me to the brink of 2020. The very number hints at perfect vision, but I see it as anything but. Technology seemed to be a blessing for humankind and I would reckon most of us cautiously embraced it as we sent our first email and shouted “Eureka”.  “Everybody, dance now”.  It was the “FAX” only much, much better.

Instant messenger, love songs, angry responses, data, mega data, dumbest – data. Push a button and with far less effort than a phone call, it was there.   I loved it. And as a former constant dialer, I traded my dialing for a keypad and emailed.

Then I encountered Instant Messages.   Not mine, but those from friends who KNEW I was online.  Rude if you don’t say hi, yet annoying because you really have to say hi.  You can ignore a phone call easily. IM – not so much.  But since all this was happening at binary speed, before an etiquette had been established, it was difficult to know how to reply.

Then eBay arrived. I loved (do still) eBay in it’s early days.  Buying and selling anything; EVERYTHING!!! We even took personal checks and I frankly did quite well.  So did many others and the search to “find stuff for eBay” was a daily challenge.  Watching your auctions was like checking your lobster pots (I am from New England) and it could be thrilling with a buzz that lasted for weeks.  And the checks came in and it promised a fun and challenging way  to scavenge and coin some money.  It also offered an entire  new world of shopping.  So I did that too.  I dare not show you what that became.  Suffice it to say you could you could replace lost childhood, recreate memories and fill up a room really, really fast.

And then came Amazon.  Resistance to betraying the bricks and mortar book stores lasted about as long as it took to find some obscure title you just remembered you had wanted at the local bookstore but didn’t have the money.

And then Dot.Coms.  Domains you needed just because it was cyber real-estate and cheap and the ones you created were better than any of the others.  They weren’t actually,  but your chuckle-bait portfolio let you sleep with a smile on your face.  Some re-sold for lots of money.  The others float around, cluttering up cyber-space.  With mine.

Wikipedia was faster than the Funk & Wagnall’s and the info was free and cited well.  Hard to argue with that – and I don’t.  As a kid who read the F&W from A to Z – I appreciated Wiki for its convenience and it did not take up shelf space.

So where I am heading?  I bet you can guess.

First let me ask if you saw Walt Disney’s  Fantasia?   I cried when the dinosaurs died.  But the part that stays with me and endures was “The Sorceror’s Apprentice”.  A cautionary tale set to music and fully illustrating what happens when what seemed to be a boost in productivity went terribly wrong.

When Mark  Z. and his chums were trying to find a way to keep up to date at Harvard for the purpose of socializing and rating women, here was Mickey all dressed in his sorcerer’s outfit.  I like to imagine he had no idea what he was about to unleash on the planet (and I often wonder what the Winkelvoss twins might have done differently).  But unleash it he did into the lives of a species known for murder and mayhem, sectarian wars and bigotry and everything recorded history has shown us.  Clearly a species that has veered into a nether world of non-evolution to something better and brighter on a small spinning rock – presumed to be the only one of its kind.    And beside the obscene amount of money he made from this loosing of the beast the things he has taken –  perhaps without intent – are so hideous and vile that we cannot unlearn them because the hits just keep on coming.  The need to know it all. ufettered, unconfined, uncensored.  Ungraded for good or bad. You decide.

Curiosity; prurient interest. The supposed wisdom and stupidity of the world is as close as your electronic device.  WOW.  Privacy?  You are being watched, listened to and tracked all the time.  Siri and Alexa, the evil twins, do as they are asked; but they can also listen in.  They haven’t nailed dreams yet – but I reckon they will.  You hadda’ have a cell phone (I didn’t, but many did) and that little device (in its cute little case) knows exactly where you are most of the time.  Many folks have their entire life history, pictures, account numbers, phone number and  passwords stored somewhere on that cute little genie in their pocket or purse.   Love to text?  Admissible as evidence in many courtrooms; if you lie it’s there and if you don’t, you’re unique.  I don’t text.   The damn thing does everything but fly.  A worse catastrophe than maiming or death is the loss of the cell.  A new level of panic ensues and it ain’t pretty.   Muscular thumbs may also change glove size.  Parents who won’t let their kids watch TV  love baby iPads. Start them early not learning.   Eliminate curiosity, discovery and amazement.   Someone far more intelligent and educated that you are will make sure they learn  everything right away.  And if you have a curious, life-like child – they may very well try to find out things, on their own, as they grow. But I can promise  you that what we called curiosity will be replaced by instant gratification.  Shopping.  All kinds of shopping.  Attention  Lunch Ladies  Browsing, giggling with friends, trying on clothes, squeezing the produce and  finding the last one at a sale is fading into legend.  Summon Proust.   Now you can sail your boat up to some stores and the ‘bosun’ will deliver it dockside. ( this and carry to the car may create new jobs, but they won’t pay much and will surely teach folks to pander for tips).  Faster service.  In some businesses an algorithm evaluates your efficiency –  you are screwed if it finds you a sloth and out you go.  Likely to soon be replaced by AI – they work for nothing and don’t have families to feed.

These are  both the more important and pedestrian things that will fade away.  They will soon ‘what we all do’.  We haven’t even explored the really bad stuff yet.  Social Media.  Invasive Cyber Warfare might describe it better. Learn to hack and rule the planet (or destroy it faster – could go either way, neither of them very appealing.) Pref-schoolers may one day CODE.  It cannot be that hard because so many idiots can do it – but it is more lethal than the Black Mamba, Ebola and plague (choose your favorite).  Hackers are not given enough credit for the havoc they have wreaked.  “Oh, it was hacked”.  Ho-hum. Seriously – the relatively easy ability to code with malicious intent should scare humanity to death.  You read the headlines.  No one is exempt, immune or safe from malware.  It topples political systems, thus nations, spreads lies, encourages bigotry and all this at breakneck speed.Coupled with drones – practice finding places to hide.  Luddites take a lot of razzing, but they also may survive.

Time out for my own favorite:  Our friend the ALGORITHM.  Here is a definition I like:

An algorithm is a step by step method of solving a problem. It is commonly used for data processing, calculation and other related computer and mathematical operations. An algorithm is also used to manipulate data in various ways, such as inserting a new data item, searching for a particular item or sorting an item.

The last sentence is particularly important.  ‘Manipulate data” is essentially where the future lies.  Add it to instant transmission and subject to interpretion by human beings – it is control.  And this folks, is what is happening. This is the point of the entire essay.  We have given up control, minute by minute, everyday we relinquish our independent thoughts to information sources as honest or dishonest as the humans and their algorithms can create.

So your cellphone is NOT secure.  Your decisions are not all your own and your actions are being influenced every second by power disguised as memes, cute little toys, convenience items, chat rooms for friends to meet and chat, dating sites and standbys like your doctor, the post office, the Fed, voting booth and things we don’t even know about.  Money, power, control, indoctrination are just a few ways it works.  Religion, politics, your town hall and the list just goes on and on.

It cannot be stopped because it has made us so dependent we can’t imagine life without it.  We cannot unknow it nor unsee it..  And it may have been intended for a future better equipped to utilize and exist  But it is now,  It is incurable, viral and despite Elon Musk’s race to Mars – all my sci-fi reading convinces me – we won’t be relocating anytime soon.  We are so entranced with destroying our planet – and while it may be sooner than you think – there really is no place to start from scratch.

Jonathan Gold July 24, 2018

Posted by voolavex in loss, Social Issues.
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Jonathan Gold, my friend and the voice of food in Los Angeles died on July 21, 2018.  He was 57 years old.  His more famous associates have been heard from in glowing tributes from all over, but without Jonathan, my partner and I would not have been foodies and writers and publishers in the 80’s, when food was first reimagined in Los Angeles.   Rita Garlington and I were  (and are) best friends who decided to brave the waters of Los Angeles public relations and by accident, we found ourselves with food clients. What started as a boutique PR firm in West Hollywood became LA ala Carte and The Food Source Hotline.  The PR business was already staked out by more established publicists (and better-heeled) and it was a very hard world to crack.   In retrospect, I am not sure if we ever did crack it, because we are never mentioned in the many memoirs of the first foodie wave – but in a short span of a few years in the 80’s – we too were voices of food. But this is not our story as much as it is a memory of Jonathan Gold, without whom  – we would never been – even for a few years, part of the original food fame of this city.

I thought this would be easier to write.  I imagined the words would flow because writers write.  I am a fine eulogist but there are some losses that take the words away.  What I do remember is the Hyperion offices of L.A. Weekly and Jonathan, my partner Rita and I writing The Best of L.A.  (the two of us who had no clue about computers).  I remember Jonathan in his British army trousers (wool) and his bare feet. We had a very good time.  I remember a pizza panel and tasting at his apartment near Vermont Avenue.  A distinguished panel we were – but the only person whose name I remember was Robin Green.  I remember both Rita and me speaking to Jonathan on the phone often and he always answered his end with a “yo”.  Long before “yo” was part of our vernacular. They had both been from the same neighborhood. I remember his wedding to Laurie at Campanile.    And my fondest memory of Counter Intelligence,  his column in the Weekly, was the one written entirely in the style of Gael Greene.  I suspect we had recently been discussing ostentation in food writing, but as I read it, I was laughing too hard to care its source. As he wrote at the end:  “I was truly transported”.   Rita and I have been trying to remember exactly how Jonathan came into our lives. Likely the Foodsource Hotline. But I suspect it doesn’t matter much. He was our friend, our inspiration and always our cheerleader.  He won the Pulitzer Prize – damn skippy he did.  And deserved it. He married his true love, Laurie Ochoa and had two lovely children.

And then he was gone.  Suddenly.  Leaving us bereft and hungry for much more.

For Whom the Yarzheit the Glows June 8, 2018

Posted by voolavex in Jesus, Jews, Jews, Social Issues, Tributes, Yarhzeits.
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Yesterday a friend posted this moving tribute and memory of his late sister Jill who died one year ago June 7th. breast cancer.  

Our tribe lights candles called yarzheits every year to remember, with love, those who have passed on. He told me I could share it and so I have done here.  This stopped my heart for its shining light and the love he felt for his sister.  Here is his memory of  Jill Kogen Arons, from the heart of her brother Jay Kogen. 

‘It’s been a year since, my sister, Jill Arons died of breast cancer. And, now, with 12 months to reflect on what she meant to our lives, it can be boiled down to one thing: Jill was weird.

Growing up in an upper-middle-class Jewish house our parents exposed us to what you’d expect — sophisticated movies, literature, TV shows, the great American songbook, and the higher end of culture. Occasionally they liked to dress up and go to fancy restaurants in Beverly Hills and socialize with funny comedy friends. They liked trips to New York and Europe. As a kid, Jill liked none of those things. She liked Chocolate Frosted Pop-Tarts, Monopoly, KROQ, needlepoint, symmetrical rainbow art, and boys with long hair. She liked bowling and bingo and the Saugus Speedway to see stock car races and the Demolition Derby. My parents were shocked and baffled. Instead of a Jewish American Princess, they were raising a Hillbilly and I hated having her for my big sister.

How could someone so different and be a Kogen?  Jill preferred Disneyland to New York. McDonald’s to Chasens. Las Vegas to, well, anywhere. When the rest of the family was into “A Chorus Line,” Jill loved “Jesus Christ Superstar” about the death and resurrection of Jesus. My parents were concerned that she wasn’t getting the Jewish cultural indoctrination they hoped. But it wasn’t Christianity she loved. I think she thought Ted Nealy was hot. Still, she wasn’t that into being Jewish either. That was clear the year she begged for and got my parents to put up a Christmas Tree.  Jews didn’t have Christmas Trees but we did. Jill insisted. We put an odd spiral cone at the top instead of a star but everyone knew it was not a Hanukah Bush. People don’t put presents under the “bush” and open them on Christmas morning.

Jill was big on presents. Giving and getting. She liked them wrapped and plentiful. This may have stemmed from her birthday is three days before Christmas and she often got one gift for both days from people. She wanted two like everyone else. She didn’t care about big-ticket items. She just wanted the present to reflect her. The best thing I ever got her was a case of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese when she was 13 because that is all she ever ate for years. She LOVED that gift because that’s who she was. Her all-pasta and fake cheese diet was a deficit to others, but she wore the badge of picky eater proudly. If she got Jewelry or a fancy sweater she’d smile politely but we all knew that wasn’t really for Jill. That was for another imaginary Kogen daughter who didn’t exist. Jill didn’t like shopping or designer clothes. She liked the LA Kings and Magic Mountain and dating a guy who was almost 30 when she was 16. Some people march to the beat of their own drum.  Jill River-danced to the whine of her own bagpipe.

Jill was fearless, and unstoppably her own person. She dropped out of Cal-Arts, got married and had a kid at a ridiculously young age, ran a typesetting business and eventually went to work at the Bingo Bugle. That was a life path attempted by no one else from Encino, ever. I, of course, took the safe and pre-approved path of going to UCLA and then getting a job in show business. While I was bending to the mold my parents unconsciously created for me, my sister was breaking the mold. She was a pioneer. And if you knew Jill, you’d know she didn’t make a big deal about doing her thing. She just did it, stubbornly moving forward. Jill’s dreams just happened like they were inevitable. And on the few occasions when they didn’t work out, like her first marriage, she dusted herself off and moved forward.

Jill was goofy. Little things made her happy. Literally. She collected tiny bottles of ketchup and other miniature stuff. She also loved items that had “AS SEEN ON TV!” on the box. Snuggies and Hallmark Collector Sets and knickknacks were her jam. I think she also collected small bottles of jam. Admittedly she wasn’t the most motherly of mothers but somehow she managed to raise one of the best people of all time, her daughter Samantha. This may have to do with one of her greatest super powers. Jill was honest… very very honest. If I gained weight she’d asked why I gained so much weight. If I lost out on a Job she’d never beat around the bush. She’d asked if I was sad I didn’t get the job. Good or bad, Jill called it like it was. It was never said with malice or jealousy, always with love in her eyes, but she wasn’t putting up with anyone’s bullshit. If you had a zit or a divorce it was going to get talked about. If you had a victory, that was going to get some airtime too. And in her honesty, she was one of the funniest people I ever met.

Comedy in my family is highly prized. It’s a big deal. It was so big I went into the business and my style was formal and calculated. Jill was naturally funny because she saw the truth and talked about it. She knew it was a little crazy so she laughed and that made the rest of us laugh. She had hope and joy.

She moved to Canyon Country because that deep suburban world was the good life to her. She met and married her amazing husband Rich on J-Date, (maybe the only time she identified as Jewish) and it was a great match. How could it not be? Rich knew exactly who he was getting from the first date. Maybe this is why he fell in love. Jill was always Jill. She had the clear-eyed authenticity I was never brave enough to employ.

Our relationship had twists and turns. When I was a baby, Jill adored me. She loved my little fingers and toes. She liked to dress me up in weird outfits. She liked to play games with me. She thought I was a cute toy. I was kind of shy and didn’t speak much. I was kind of like a cute toy to her. But then, at some point, maybe around 5, I started talking. And from that point on we started fighting and didn’t stop until she moved out when she was around 18. I know why we were at odds. I was the goody-goody to my parents, which made her seem more out of step. I made it harder for Jill to be Jill and part of me knew what I was doing. She liked to claim I was secretly bad. She said I pushed her out of a moving car on the way to Camp Fun Time. She did fall out of the car but I didn’t push. My bad was more covert. I might tell on her or act out in ways that were just short of the line where I could get in trouble. She always compared me to Tad Martin on “All My Children.” If you know the show, he wasn’t a nice guy. One day when I was 16 she chased me out of the house with a steak knife in her hand, which I’m sure was a fight I started. I thought we’d always be like prisoners in a family chain gang, uncomfortably forced together for our entire lives. But then once she moved out we suddenly became friends. I’m not sure how it happened. Our differences seemed to melt away. I finally saw Jill for the fearless warrior she was and she liked me because I still had stubby fingers.

She finally took an interest in show business when I went into it. We took a few excursions together. Went to concerts. We watched our hometown hockey team, the Kings, finally win the Stanley Cup. (Jill was a fan since she was 10. And one year, my parents arranged to have some of the Kings including Butch Goring sing her happy birthday and bring out a cake at the Forum Club.) We rented a boat on July 4th a few times to watch fireworks. We talked about taking other trips together in recent years but it never happened because I couldn’t find the time and part of me didn’t want to spend a week at “The Biggest Loser” camp.

In the last half of her life, this rebel was the rock of our family. Jill took care of all of us, especially my mom and dad. She would find tricks and coupons and the best life hacks for all situations. If you were going to Istanbul she’d tell you where to go even though she’d never have been there. She’d find a website or forum and get you the coolest tour for the Hagia Sophia that includes snacks. There was nothing she couldn’t become an expert on fairly quickly. She became the keeper of technology and finance for my parents. She knew all the passwords and had trackers on everyone’s phones. When she wanted to learn something new, she took charge and did it. One year, she decided she hated paying someone to do her taxes so she took classes on doing taxes and did it herself. (I think she was even a notary.) And she took pleasure in the things she loved: her family, husband, Samantha’s dog, and online coupons. And she did all this with clear-eyed Joy. One of her greatest qualities was being able to see the good in the simple fun things in life. She didn’t need to exaggerate what was happening to make anything seems cooler or more impactful to make it worth doing. No drama. Just reality. Real sorrow when things sucked and real joy when things were good. Mostly there was joy.

Even when the breast cancer came, she kept her spirits up. She did what the doctors said and waited for good news, which ultimately never arrived, but she plowed ahead anyway. Through painful surgeries and chemo and radiation that ravaged her body she somehow got through it hoping for new treatments to save her but the disease beat the cure. The day she decided to start hospice she met it with the usual combination of complete honesty, humor, and a determination to get on with the journey. She talked about hoping there was a heaven and joked about how embarrassing it will be to see some of the relatives we didn’t like but how great it would be to see the people we loved and missed. In those last days, we watched movies and game shows when she wasn’t sleeping or trying to move to a position that wasn’t painful. She didn’t go out of her way to be anything more than what she was, a person who loved us who was dying. She was honest about that too.

So it’s been exactly a year since Jill left us. The hole in my heart is as big as ever. We all miss her. But her legacy remains. She’s a beacon of truth and joy and beauty that I will forever hold up as a role model for how to live — free and daring and authentic. She became one of my best friends. I could never ask for a better big sister.

This is a week of yahrzeits for me too.  I wish I had the eloquence of Jay Kogen to say how I feel about those I have lost  But he allowed me to share this and it is exquisite.  As the Boston Irish say – “Gawd love ya”.

And I must add – Jill,  your brother is one of my favorite people.  Rest in peace, look down from the cosmos and know he is still being loved as he loved you and Gawd, this is starting to sound Jesusy.  Thank you, Jay.

Folding Shoes April 27, 2018

Posted by voolavex in birthday, mother, serial monster, funeral, life baggage, loss, dead, death certificate, guilt, My Mother, Social Issues.
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Today is my late mother’s birthday.  Had she lived, she would have been 95.  And had she lived I wonder what would have happened. I wonder about it too often, I think.

When I was a girl of tweenage – 11ish I’d say I went to Ballroom Dancing School in Salem, Massachusetts.  The teacher, Harriet James, was a kind of crone ‘too old to be teaching much of anything’ and she was bitter because she was teaching dancing school in Salem, Massachusetts. Dreams do not always come true.   She had a sort of Boston Brahmin/British accent, dyed hair, and a clicker.  (Used to be sold to kids at Halloween as well as in dime stores.  I have one-…thought I would “train” kittens and I knew better – cats come trained.  But I digress).  As we stumbled and counted in time to the music and we tried to learn the upper crust skills for the cotillion or debutante ball none of us would ever go to, she clicked at errors in waltzes, box-steps, cha-chas and the record would abruptly stop and we would start over again.  And boy, could she work that clicker with malice aforethought.  The sound still haunts me. I hate to think what she would do with a Flicker Spinner today. It was a class for boys and girls.  Mostly girls.  This culminated in fancy dress “Ball” we all wanted to attend and of course to win the 1st prize or just be the best.  Something like that.

I was a very thin child and wore glasses and in my own mind, no beauty. Clothes usually never fit right but the real problem was shoes.  I had feet like snakes.  Long and thin and in order to actually wear shoes, they had to be ordered from St. Louis.  From the shoe factory direct and so no Thom McAn’s for my AAAA/AAAAA feet.  (How I longed for cute, chubby feet with little cute toes).  And, we are talking “good” shoes –  au courant ballet flats for wearing with full length, tulle ball gowns.  Black or red or white (red was best) or, dare I say – gold or silver.  As I recall, my good shoes came a long way from St. Louis but color-wise they still had a long, long way to go in the metallics.  I had to endure jokes about glass slippers and sox and of course, I had no clue about my single mother’s money situation.  I just wanted “good shoes”, for the Ball.  And I knew how to whine.  And whine I did while my wonderful mother searched high and low for some sort of “good shoes” for me to wear to Miss Jame’s’s Ball.

I went to the lessons weekly and actually got the hang of the various dances but the thrill was gone.  Shoes were my only concern.  The dress was purchased.  Filene’s Basement.  And one fine day my mother came into the house with a shopping bag from a department store and announced she had found the shoes.  In gold, in my size and she presented the shoes to me with a smile and a sigh of relief as I tuned up and started to pitch a running fit.  “These are FOLDING SHOES”. ” They FOLD.  I don’t want shoes that fold”. I will not wear them and don’t get shoes that FOLD.”  A full-fledged tantrum and she was about to cry. “Just try them on”, she pleaded.  I screamed “No” and sobbed. And they sat on the table in their tacky plastic case, gold and FOLDED.  Night fell, I pouted and we went to bed.  By morning we had both gathered our arguments like Philadelphia lawyers and the “shoes” were once again on the table. “No,” said I. “I just won’t go”. And went to my room. And waited. And then as only mothers can  – she said, calmly through the door she would take them back and left them on the table. And went down the stairs and out the door.  What could I do now; ungrateful, spoiled snake footed bitch that I was?  I attacked the plastic case, unfolded the shoes and put them on. And they did fit.  And they did sparkle and they would work perfectly.  And because my mother was beautiful and perfect and wonderful,  I went to the Ball and my shoes never got mentioned.   But they were the first in a long series of folding shoes I wore until I watch a real teenager and the memory still makes me laugh.

Now, of course, comes the irony of ironies, she didn’t live to see that rebranded folding shoes are now “amazing” and “cool” and “all that”.  She would never see them all over the Internet (she wouldn’t see that either).  She would never gasp, as I do, at the prices asked for what used to come, folded, in a tacky plastic case for $2,99 at Jordan’s.   Choices unlimited, all colors and made mostly of pleather and vinyl and sometimes even leather and always “imported” from the Mystery Land of Folding Shoes. Who would have ever thought?

So for -, Happy Birthday Momma.  You left far too soon. But I see you in my dreams. and in memories of the damn folding shoes.

Folding Shoes. April 27, 2018

Posted by voolavex in Social Issues.
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Nothing is Wrong with Apu April 15, 2018

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This is a response to the recent Apu stereotype campaign. I put it on “contact me/write something” available on his website.  Hari Kondbulo has not replied.  I think he did for the publicity.  Talk about Apu being exploited.  I am a long time Simpsons fan – since they were “bumpers” on the Tracey Ullman.  Hari Kondabulo was a baby then or simply not even born.  Anyway, this is my own take.

I know a pretty fair amount about India. Spoken and written, history and humor. I also know that Apu’s accent is how many Indians sound when they speak English. Is it demeaning and (buzz word alert) racist?? Isn’t it funny that when a character (live or in a cartoon) is French or British it’s okay to voice or portray the accent as charming and often funny? And it doesn’t have to be a native-born actor. Yet the accent is often authentic and correct. Russians can have very thick accents very often – and they are imitated in the media (and my neighborhood) that’s okay too.  Voice actors are invisible.  It is only lately we know the name of any.    It is only lately we know the name of any. Just like regional accents in America – this is how many people sound. Suppose Apu was voiced by a South Asian – the same accent but one that is “real” and not an imitation by an American actor? Would that be okay? And a larger question exists as well: What should South Asians sound like.  Call center slaves?  Should they bleach their speech so other South Asians will not be offended?

Here’s the skinny:  Many mini-marts are owned by South Asians. Many motels are run by South Asians. (The name Patel was and is a term for a parcel of land.)?  Lots. Run well, profitable and a business that hires other South Asians and helps them make a living. Many sound like Apu;   Should they not? The characters on the Simpson’s are satirical. Snake sounds like a cultured street thug. Mr. Burns sounds like many old white men I have been around especially in  Ivy League areas. Mr. Smithers is a gay stereotype.
Wiggum is an Irish cop.  Milhouse is a whiny nerd.  Should actors and millions of fans BDS Apu’s accent? Should all beer guzzling, overweight numbskulls rise up and protest? (You may be married or related to one? ).

The Simpsons is satire at its very best.

But hooray for the documentarian/comedian that questions all of the above. And hooray for the publicity and fame and money it is making him. I suspect this: The Simpsons for its long run and delighted audiences and guest voices will remain funnier long after Hari Kondabulo and “The Trouble with Apu” has heard hits last laugh.

Namaste.

 

Just Say NO. SOTU. Solutions January 30, 2018

Posted by voolavex in despicable, Election 2016, Idiots in Government, nose picking, Putin, serial monster, sexist, snot, Social Issues, Social Media, solutions, The 45th, Washington Post.
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Tonight, the Asshole in Chief.  Thief of the Truth.  The Rotten Orange Who Spoiled A Nation, is going to spew some falsehoods speciousness, deliberate lies and fantasies over broadcast TV.  The Social Media participants are raving and roiling and cursing and nasty and demeaning this farce – as they should be.  You know who you are.  I join you in your disgust.  But I have come up with a BRILLIANT solution. Bigly.  Yuuuuuge. Cheap – Free actually, no special skills needed.

JUST DO NOT WATCH IT.  DO NOT WATCH IT.  DO NOT LISTEN TO IT.  CHANGE THE CHANNEL. PICK YOUR NOSE. BETTER STILL.  READ A BOOK, PLAY SOME MUSIC.  GO TO BED EARLY.  JUST SAY NO.

No frills solution.  Those who decide to view it.  DO NOT REHASH it to those who took my sage advice.  It will be just as bad as you think and editorializing is for the media.  Don’t even listen.  

JUST SAY NO.

That is all.

#Metoo. Now What? (Edited) December 7, 2017

Posted by voolavex in despicable, Domestic Violence, Genital Matters, guilt, Guilt relief, Halter tops, Harvey Weinstein, illegal, marriage, murder, serial monster, sex, sexist, sexy, sins, Social Issues, solutions, The 45th, vagina.
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I have been informed that I have made some errors in this post.  There are 51 sets of sexual assault laws in this country.  They can be found on findlaw.com.  These are the 50 states and Federal law.  I did not check all of them and I did not include territories or possessions, however each body of laws regarding sexual crimes have various types, sentencing recommendations and those that cross state lines become federal. What I sensed in those I read was that various degrees of these crimes exist but I also think – only my opinion – that they should be codified better throughout the various legal systems.  And I hold to the idea that the accused and the abused should both have due process.  I should add that sexual crimes are very complicated and very much disagreed upon globally.  But indeed they are, in this country, set down by each state and  the federal government and guidelines, statutes and many laws exist. I apologize for not researching this better and I hope that simply by searching  a state’s sex crimes law on the Internet these resources will answer questions I cannot. I am not in law enforcement nor am I an attorney. This post has been edited to reflect my errors.

What happens when you unleash predators and dump them into a big cage with room for  many, many more?  Some are misdemeanor predators with only one egregious  act to their name and others are serial predators who would still be doing it if they had not been exposed.  It’s a valid question because every crime on our books has degrees of offenses.  Sexual crimes do as well (see above) – I would guess because it has been ignored, not believed, excused or just plain denied by the offenders or the legal and LE systems these laws may slip through the cracks.  It has a statute of limitations in some states so if you got assaulted 26 years ago – time has run out and the offender walks.

For many reasons – that of shame, trauma and fear of not being believed,what are considered criminals among us who don’t get charged and we have #metoos who do not get their day in court.  All  these particular offenses  are are not equal and herein lies the rub  (sorry).  Is a pinch on the butt equal to a rape in an alley?  Is workplace harassment comparable to a gang rape in a fraternity house or at a party.  Is substance abuse a factor?  Is domestic abuse with rape the same as rubbing up in subway car?  Can a husband rape a spouse legally.  Is flirting frought with danger.  Is it an invitation or is it so complicated a message it can be a crime to even do it? You know the variations on this theme and you also know that the acts themselves are not all the same.  They may make us feel violated and threatened and dirty; but they are not all the same.

Those accused – whom we so readily name and those who are not named but pointed at  – areoften not charged and therefore not proven guilty.  The millions of #metoos are still only  making accusations.  And while these offenses include the murdering of the souls and psyches of the women and male victims who have been abused and violated,  there  are still  very broad interpretations of such crimes by judges and juries. Frequently the evidence in any court would be one word against the other. I suspect even lawyers on both sides have issues with this problem.

How could you apply a statute of limitations on better defined degrees or would all sexual high crimes and misdeanors be treated exactly the same.  Anthony Weiner provided proof of his own aberrations – and he made himself the villain because he was the villain.  He is in the fedslam.  He has been disgraced and he is being punished through the legal system.  Due process.

Because a culture of fear and shame denied the violated, the violated were denied due process.  I think if I were so  inclined, I would sue those who perpetuated this.  And if I were in the legal arena, I would collect all the evidence available and bring causes of action in each case that could be a cause of action.  I would not favor the race or age or gender of the accused or their value to a college or a career or a future.  Let Justice be blind. We are a nation of accomplished finger pointers.  We use reputations to defame and extol many people who deserve neither.  But I am more concerned with the way in which these crimes or alleged crimes (because people do lie) are handled and have been handled. And I speak personally; that not all people violated have their lives ruined.  Many do, but many don’t. There are those of us who can relegate memories to a place where #metoo no longer has a daily impact or incessant pain.  We are the fortunate ones.

While members of the Congress and commerce are resigning in droves and without due process we are committing further injustice  and a rush to judgment outside the courts of law.  This is wrong too.

I do not claim to have answers that are effective in the moment.  But the crimes of a sexual nature; the rapes, the rubs, the feel-ups, the date rapes, the marital rapes, the campus rapes the injury, the accused who do go on trial, the anger, the retaliation all have to be placed in a context that other crimes against society and people are placed.  This body of crime has existed for all of humanity.  Some sought power, some sought satisfaction, some went nuts in war and kept on abusing.  But in any context – this  is not new.  And as such we need to make it fit into our legal system better and be adjudicated as we do many other offenses.

And please remember that women and men can be #metoos.

 

 

 

 

 

Ancient Astronaut Theorists Missed This November 27, 2017

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I love the UFO station – Discovery, I guess and I absolutely LOVE Hairguy.  And even though they have many reruns – it’s not a subject (if you are intrigued) you can opt out  casually, just in case someone reveals something that starts you  thinking.  I notice many of the commentators are Ph.Ds from real universities and I actually believe many astrophysicists are primed for that AHA moment too.    It’s just as plausible as religion – I say if you have a place for Occam’s Razor – sharpen it and think outside the sphere.

I happened to flipping stations and Hairguy was on an episode about “Secrets”.  (They are all about secrets actually )but the astrodocs and their colleagues were expounding on the images of “star beings” in so much of ancient art and   on the similarities.  Which I find fascinating.  Of course the came in on the dreaded Akhenaten – misshapen and heretical – but  I started to look not at him – although he is mesmerizing – but at the tomb art.  Especially the 18th Dynasty’s radical changes . I love the art itself, but it is strange.  I once knew someone who could decipher the glyphs (with the help of Wallis Budge) and it’s meanings were hard for me to fathom.  (Assuming the Rosetta Stone was a true translation.) However what caught my brain was their immediate comparisons to Aztec and Mayan, Chinese,  Sanskrit Inuit, Viking (etc) art that -carried  a common theme  and seemed to be saying the same thing in other “languages”.  Which led me not to think that “ancient aliens” made a round the world tour but essentially told the same story in (maybe) holographic visits and the art of the cultures were more like directions. or a Fodor Guide. “How to” manuals with arrows and pictures and directions on just what they had to say and wanted done.  Not art.  But information translated into the vernacular of these various cultures so they could absorb and use it.  And not too long after, whole peoples disappeared and in some cases left no trace of anything.  And some died and got the full Monty of funerals, but it happened world wide.  Assuming (and of course ancient astronaut theorists assume this) these visiting travellers had the ways and means to figure out there was a here here, surely they had some powers that were – well – other wordly and far more advanced After all, why make the trip if you weren’t going to either kill us all or share the info. Sightseeing came later. So if you think then about our attempts to rove Mars or photograph Saturn or go to the moon; how is this any different – except for us, it’s on a far less advanced scale.   But we buy it.

So many discoveries  and we continue to hold onto our position of “no this can’t be”; we know the only way it could be.  What have we missed by not viewing the “art” as something far different that just religious scribbles.  And consider this – we didn’t figure out the Double Helix until 1952 – anyone dropping by thousands of years ago could have done anything to us.  Maybe what we swab is not ours at all.  Science has developed CRISPR and bionic and genetic engineering.  Maybe all we are just late to the table.  The simplest answer is usually the right one – being married to science is wonderful and necessary for some – but Carl Sagan thought further; Neil Tyson may, the rumblings of Asimov, Arthur C, Clarke, even Gene Rodenberry have evolved into reality and who knows – maybe that whoosh through the wormhole will have us believing ancient astronaut theorists.   Open minds work best.  They really do.