Today I saw a Golden Eagle harried into a copse of Scotch Pines by a pack of juvenile ravens. They were not happy by its presence. Eagles are not so tough. I took it as an omen. Tomorrow the world is going to end according to certain voices in the evangelical circuit. It is also the first days of autumn, we are entering the long dark night of the soul in winter. Another circuit of the evangelical voice is calling Donald Trump the anointed of God. Hopefully they short each other out and we can get back to sanity.
I was dusting and straightening out my research library when a copy of “Gonzo Papers Vol. 2 Generation of Swine, Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ‘80s” by Hunter S. Thompson caught my eye. It had been a bit since I had last read it. He was writing a column for the San Francisco Examiner in 1985-86. One of the columns made me shake the book like I was looking up the word pooka in the play “Harvey”.
This week we had the quake in Mexico City on the tail end of a couple of hurricanes barreling into the Caribbean: Sept. 19th, 2017. It was the anniversary of the Sept. 19th, 1985 quake in Mexico City after a couple of hurricanes barreled into the Caribbean. It was the Reagan years, and the beginning of the Iran-Contra scandal that proved caustic for another Republican president. Ronald Reagan was a good actor, he could read a script and get his lines right. But he had the foresight of most actors, he had to wait for somebody to write the next script or he was out to sea.
I submit that we are seeing what happens when that generation of swine gets into the radioactive waste dump of Hanford and starts to mutate. Huge ravenous, mutant, glow in the dark pigs that have over run the world, and once again the gods are not happy.
Trump is fond of eagles, so were the Roman legions. He likes to work them into his tasteless décor to overcompensate for his upbringing. When they finally drag him off to the institution, raving like a psycho, he will be diagnosed, we may find out all the horrors locked up in that twisted brain.
In 1985, Trump was just starting out, a young pig rooting around in those spent fuel rods. Reagan had helped tear down the wall which lead to the rise of the Russian oligarchs who have bribed and extorted their way into the GOP and probably the rest of the 1 percent in one way or another. The Web did not exist in 1985. We had to watch it all through the tube, or read the paper. There was no fake news back then, just news and lies. You could tell who was lying because their lips were moving. The rich were counted in millions instead of billions and there was some faint hope that you could carve your own plot of ground in some cemetery after you put in your time working for the head pigs because they owed you.
This glow in the dark hog is different. They do not owe you a thing. Not only have they taught you to sit still at your desk in school, but they have taught you that nine to five is what you owe them. And the current pigs in DC with their super irradiated brains know that they are the elite, and you should just do your job as the lines in the film “Metropolis” or work on the assembly line until you snap as in “Modern Times”. But those lines have moved overseas and they are not coming back. The rich sold out the worker in the Russian Federation a long time ago, and the worker in Asia took up the slack. The American worker sold their soul for bread and circus, beer and football, wine and cheese. The ones that snap are on the street with a brown bag and a bottle of mad-dog or in an opium dream someplace. Broken parts that the rich have just cast aside because they are not going to pay for the rehab. Plenty of indentured servants in the world, plenty of people they have taught to believe the lies.
Reagan never got his, and Bush never got his . . . Trump and his ilk? I am putting my hope in the juvenile ravens. Maybe they can harry these swine into the harsh steel cage of justice to spend the rest of their days paying for what they have done.
To the world at large: The Resistance to a Russian Federation attack on the US election of 2016 continues. I just posted this e-mail to all of the representatives of my state. This is just one more grain of sand in the ever growing push to change our angle of repose.
I just want to be sure that my representatives for Idaho know that I consider anyone who votes for the repeal and replacement of the ACA to be in criminal collusion with an attack by the Russian Federation on our country. Those who are not actively responding to this attack and are attempting to push a divisive agenda should be brought up on criminal charges. This is not government as usual.
In the spirit of demonstrating that people will always fight against tyranny: Outside of Kabul in the late 1970s, the dog fights. The Afghan people will only change when they want to change, and they will fight to do so.
If a dinosaur died in the Triassic, and its bones never fossilized, would that dinosaur ever have lived?
Upon a time when you were caught in the Khyber Pass past sundown, the oddest things could happen to you. It paid to have friends who had friends who would take you into their walled compounds before the other Pathans knew you were there.
I may never know if that is my mother under that burka, or perhaps just the lady of the house. But I will tell you one thing about any group of people who want an exit strategy from a foolish invasion of Afghanistan, unless they have a way of placing the destiny of that country back into the hands of the people who lived in compounds like this, it will never be stable again. I believe we were all tied up with USAID at that time, before the Soviet invasion.
”He who dies and forgets today, dies to live some other way.”
These two letters were received from my Senator in response to emails to him expressing my concerns about US withdrawal from the Paris Accords, and the Russian Federation’s cyber information attack and collusion with the GOP and Trump campaign. If you go back to an earlier post of mine, you will find a response from this Senator dated May 11, 2017. The response to my next letter on the same topic this time is dated June 8, 2017. It is the same letter. So obviously, this senator has had no change of thought in that time frame. He has learned nothing. The letter about the Paris Accords withdrawal speaks for itself. He is hidebound and a tool of exploitation of the environment to further profit.
I am posting these in the continuing hope that the resistance to America’s crippling by internal and external forces can be overcome. There are people here who are trying to fix the problem, and any help that people in the world can lend us would be appreciated. The forces at work here are a threat to humanity’s future.
I had seen more dancing bears before I ever saw my first golf-course. I mean real golf-courses, not miniature golf. And I mean real dancing bears, not something off of a Grateful Dead bumper sticker.
In the market in Lahore there was a Pashtun wearing dirty perahan wa tunban with a long grey vest and lungee, on his feet Pathan sandals, by his side marched a muzzled sun-bear with chain collar and long chain dangling from his master’s hand, arms entwined behind his back. Very cavalier for a man with a bear. For a few rupees he would make the bear twirl on his hide legs, paws in the air.
The Russian circus came to town before I had even learned to drag a camera about. Their bears where brown, large and un-muzzled. I remember the red vests the trainers wore, very striking.
It was not too many years later that I discovered my first golf-course in the middle of the night. But I never learned to play. I did learn that high school children liked to drink beer there, smoke dope, and hook up. I imagine that college age people did to, probably for nostalgia sake. You could find the empty green bottles, empty baggies, and occasional condom. By then I had learned about grizzly bears, and black bears, Kodiak bears, and the extinct golden bears of California, and the great bear of Russia.
There is a wicker basket in the corner of where I live. It used to be used for laundry; it is now used for balls. All those nights and days wandering around avoiding the bears, the cougars, the skunks, walking by tennis courts, golf-courses, picking up lost balls. My father played golf, but I do not remember him doing so. There was a golf bag in his effects. I took home the bucket of balls for the basket, my brother took home the clubs. I learned to juggle.
This was all B.C., before Caddyshack. Those were good years, B.C. I was younger and it was fun to find empty ground without people. It was even more fun after Caddyshack. “Biggest wastes of real estate, golf-courses and cemeteries” spouts the developer played by Rodney Dangerfield. I took it to heart and was happy. Cemeteries and golf-courses were keeping the world a little nicer because they were keeping the ground out of the hands of real estate developers. I could watch the edges of towns blur the country, but the cemeteries and golf-courses were still safe at night. I could wander around avoiding the cougars, skunks, and bears.
But now it is A.D., after Donald. I try not to go near golf-courses. They have become bad places, not preserving the ground from developers. They are the playground of developers. They are the place you go to look at the kleptocrats, to emulate the kleptocrats. They are pretty like the gold souq of Dubai, or the frankencastles on the hills with well-manicured lawns and gardens. I do not go there at night anymore, because I am afraid of the great bear. He is no longer tied to Polaris.
That leaves me the graveyards at night. I pass them in the daytime; they are getting busier, new holes, new mourners. Night is the only time they seem at rest.
Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886
Poem #260 from her catalog of works . . .
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!
How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!
Once upon a time I had a teacher in a poetry class named Ruth Slonim. She was fond of quoting Emily Dickinson and every once in a while snippets of these poems pop into my head. Some I have even burned into my brain years later. But this is an example of someone who effected my life in such a way that I didn’t even realize it fully at the time. The old song goes “you never know what you got until it is gone.” She died in 2005.
I later learned that during her life, she was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Just to be nominated means she effected a lot more people than just me. She had, and still has relevance in this world. She is still effecting in her own quiet way.
The last time I remember meeting her was on a side-walk maybe 20 years after she taught me in class. She remembered me from that class, and said she had been hearing good things about my work. I mostly feel I have dwelled in hiding all my life, so when these little bumps come along, they make me reevaluate what I really am, what I think I have and have not done with my life. And things like “How dreary to be somebody . . . ” pop into my head.
The frog tune that was posted on this blog a little time back in reference to the Donald Trump horror, must come from this poem, and Ruth Slonim. “An admiring Bog” is a danger that Donald Trump never had a teacher burn into his brain as a warning. It is really a shame that the humanities of a well-rounded education never sank in for Mr. Trump. It is people like Ruth Slonim that I have to thank for adding this little angel on my shoulder, or is it a demon? Whatever it is, it is one of those lessons that never really gets over.
Photo: A bail of #1 Plastics at the Local Recycling Center
This is a critique of Graphic Library’s “Engineering an Awesome Recycling Center with Max Axiom, Super Scientist.”
Before they started paying me to pick up garbage, they paid me to catalog books. I have kept in touch with some people who still do. When they came across a copy of Graphic Library’s “Engineering an Awesome Recycling Center with Max Axiom Super Scientist” by Nikole Brooks Bethea, they knew that I would want to see it.
I have spent the last nineteen years or so helping to move garbage and recycling off a small university campus, and I do appreciate anybody trying to teach people that garbage is bad and recycling is good. As a child, I collected comics with the best of them, so I know the difference between a graphic novel and a comic book. Also, I believe both of them have a valued use as a crossover medium between literature and graphic arts. In fact, one of my early poems has a line about all my “heroes come from comic books.”
Like any form of storytelling, graphic novels and comic books do not subscribe totally to reality, but I spent many years learning to analyze literature for an English degree. It took me a bit to understand why I started laughing out loud when I reached page seven. It was Max Axiom’s definition of the problem in his outline of the engineering process that made me laugh.
The basic story line of the piece is that Max gets a message from the mayor, “Help! The city’s landfill is filling up quickly.” He zooms off to check out the landfill and see it in action. He explains to Will, the solid waste manager, how the engineering process works and what engineers do. “They create things that help people and change the world around them.” They use “what they know about science, math, and people to consider and compare many possible solutions.”
He comes to the conclusion that “Our problem is the landfill is running out of space.” For an engineer that might be the problem, but he is a little too reliant on the science and math. He has forgotten what he knows about people and there for fails to come up with the right problem to start his engineering process. The real problem is that there are too many people making too much garbage. It is possible that for the sake of the story, he decides to bury the core problem of people making too much garbage because he knows that it cannot be solved. But as the old programmer’s axiom goes, “garbage in, garbage out” (no pun intended).
Max starts with the wrong problem so this may be why he goes wrong in his information gathering process. He speaks with the mayor, solid waste and recycling managers, with a little nod to the engineers who do the building and inspections of the new recycling facility. But he does not talk to the people who operate all the equipment to make the solid waste/recycling process work. The people who drive the recycling trucks, the operators of the track and wheel loaders, the people who clean and sort recyclables even with a wonderful sorting machine. These are the people who have to clean and repair and maintain and operate it. The food and biological contamination in recycling is pretty bad, especially at central drop off points without monitoring.
Max does not talk to any of these people. They would tell him that it is not the landfill filling up too quickly. It is people making too much garbage that is the problem. And all this equipment that makes the process easier, possible even, takes its toll. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, being a solid waste/recycling collector in 2011 was the seventh most dangerous job in America for deaths per hundred thousand. It became number five in 2013. People die out there in the trash world, and the people who actually do the job will tell you it is a losing battle. The hole in the ground is going to get full and you are just going to have to get another one no matter how you slow the process with recycling.
There is a point in the story while the mayor, Max, and the solid waste manager are looking for options. She points out that “the city council doesn’t want to upset citizens.” In this instance she is nixing the building of an incinerator to burn the garbage. But I think the citizens will be upset with the millions of dollars spent on building and maintaining a recycling program as well as a solid waste program. They will certainly grumble about having to sort their garbage. I thing the original call for help should have been to ask Max how to finance a new recycling center. In the world of this story, funding is never discussed, and building an awesome recycling center costs nothing to make it happen. I believe that selling recycling product covers the cost is implied in super scientist world. However shipping out material these days eats most of the profit. The only way recycling centers survive is by government subsidies. The big sorting and recovery plants are where the profit may lie. That will be even more so with single stream or co-mingle recycling. Co-mingle may well cut out the middle person in the solid waste flow.
At the end of this graphic novel, there is so much recycling that they may have to build a larger recycling center. If this town is anything like the place I work, they will be waiting for a new building in fifteen years like we are.
There is a “more about” section in the back of this book also. It has a small blurb about a statistic from 2010 which says that Americans generated about 250 tons of trash and recycled about 85 tons of that making a thirty-four percent recovery rate. I do not know where this statistic came from, but the organization I work for generates 400 tons of trash a year and recovers about forty-eight percent of that. So I question how much trash America really generated for that year.
I do not want it to seem that I am totally disenchanted with “Engineering and Awesome Recycling Center”. I like it very much! It is a good starting place to learn that recycling is good and garbage is bad. There are a couple of panels that are just too real not to be appreciated. When Max is at the city landfill, in the back ground there are piles of trash with track-loads moving it. With a few little strokes of black ink above the piles, there are flocks of birds. That is just a beautiful touch that most people would not put in. It brings the dump alive. I wish that people could smell the methane coming out of the ground also.
Maybe this line of work all boils down to tilting at windmills, yet you have to remember, my heroes all come from comic books. I hope someday, some kid will pick up a copy of this book and say “Hey!” That is what I want to be when I grow up.” Until somebody addresses the central problem of too many people making too much garbage, somebody is going to need to operate those recycling trucks and front-end loaders.
First published through triod.com, 2015
This book review was written to keep me writing and publishing through an on-line clearing house of materials which was supposed to make me a couple of dollars. It didn’t. However, it did keep me going until I was distracted by the continuing horrors of the American election of 2016.
Photo: AL-foil bail at the Local Recycling Center.