Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THIS & THAT #37

HEIR APPARENT TO
THE WORLD POWER
We are at a precarious time in history, with no one firmly ensconced at the top of the world power ladder, but with several individuals trying to flex their muscles.

Perhaps if we look at the Bible’s Book of Judges, we can see how Delilah deceived Samson, and had him finally reveal that his strength lay in his hair. She, in turn, let the Philistines know of his weakness, they shaved his locks, and he lost his strength.

If those on the ladder could have their lock shaven, perhaps they would each become more docile and less inclined to hold the ultimate of the power they now seek.

It sure would help make the world a better place.

WHAT DO WILL DO?
Who are these hirsute hombres, each with their own inimitable coiffures, and if they were shorn, would they each be a better person?

Donald J. Trump

Bob Dylan and/or Peter, Paul and Mary, both expressed that “the answer is blowing in the wind.”  When that song was released in 1963, Donald and his hair was worlds away from that reality, and he is still quite consistent, being away from any reality today.

Vladimir Putin
Here is another leader searching for his place in history. “Putin on the Ritz” was written by Irving Berlin and first published in 1929.  Vlad is power hungry, looking for a way to recreate a dominant USSR, but that time is long gone. Watch Vlad here, as he rides to conquer the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3z841UJiVk

Kim Jong-un

He currently serves as Supreme Leader of North Korea, and anyone who conflicts with him and his policies, may be dispatched relatively quickly. This 5’7” giant is quite inconsistent, except for his hair. He was born on January 8, 1982, or 1983, or 1984.

Sheldon Adelson

Sheldon is an American businessman involved with the Las Vegas gambling scene, and has a fortune of US40 billion. Much of that money goes to deciding which way to comb his hair. He is a devout Zionist and a right-leaning GOP, who donated heavily to Trump’ 2016 campaign.

Benjamin Netanyahu

Bibi, like many of these power players, is firm in his resolve to cover any frontal bald spots by combing his hair from left to right. It’s a very apropos gesture for Israel’s right-leaning Likud Party leader. He admires Trump and Trump’s hairdresser, and looks forward to a two-state solution — one state for Likud members, and another for settlers.

WORLD LEADERSHIP
IS A HAIRY PROBLEM

Sunday, April 8, 2018

THIS & THAT #36

HERE COMES THE SLUDGE


ON THE ONE HAND
Many have been receiving an unending collection of campaign muck and mire, emanating from those seeking to either support or get rid of Donald Joseph Trump and his semi-savvy savants.

Elected Republicans are wary of saying anything against Donald J’s twiddling tweets, fearing that he could reverse his course in a moment, and then attack the source of any anti-Trump message.

His political appointees, whether a member of his rotating cabinet or serving as a messenger, know that their position depends on his mood on any given early morning foray into his vacillating tweet land.

ON THE OTHER HAND
The Democrats, Progressives, and out-of office functionaries who are eager to replace those closely aligned with the Mar-A-Lago runaways, are also wary of what they say. If they attack too much, the response could bite them at the ballot box, when their vindictive opposition starts grinding out their own convoluted, anti-truth messages.

In 2016, Democratic strategists sent out the wrong messages to the wrong people, merely solidifying those who truly wanted to believe in something. It took them a while to discover that along with California and New York, there were needed electoral votes and voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Arizona.

AH, HA, THEY SO SAYETH
The four-page letter I received a few days ago from Bernie, spelled out all of the problems the country now faces. While much of the blame is laid upon Donald, blame also has to be given to those progressives who helped him to be elected through their political naivety and weak actions in the 2016 campaign. That includes Debbie, Donna, Hillary, and the DNC.

A NEW COARSE TAKEN
Democrats are going after the dollars of middle-class whites, and the votes of the unappreciated minorities of color and those with an English-language deficiency. Let’s hope that they have a more organized plan then the last one, trying to connect with citizens who will vote on November 6, 2018, and beyond.

There are young people who seem to be attempting to change the direction of our country. Along with Blacks and Latinos and Latinas, the Democrats had better pay attention to the neglected minority of middle-class, non-progressive whites, like the police officer in this photo. The Reverend Sharpton, not withstanding his ability to be on the scene everywhere at the same time, may not be able to deliver the votes needed in 2018 to change the course of the country’s ship of state.

Monday, March 26, 2018

THIS & THAT #33 1/2

THE PAST HAS PASSED
This past Sunday, Villanova beat Duke 85 to 81 in Omaha, to become one of the final four universities remaining in the quest for the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s basketball championship game on April 2. Although the NCAA is a non-profit organization, its 2016 revenue for all sports under its dictatorial control, came to $995.6 million in 2016. The president of the NCAA will “earn” just under $2 million a year, the highest paid basketball coach Mike Krzyewski at Duke makes $8.89 million a year, while college basketball players earn whatever they can get under the table, and from unscrupulous agents.

THE PAST RELIVED
Thirty-three years ago, Villanova’s 1985 two-point, 66-64 win over favored Georgetown took place in Lexington, Kentucky. Although I always root for the underdog, and wanted Villanova to win, the evening of that 1985 game, my time was divided between the television set turned to the game, and the gathering in the dining room of some professor’s house in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

I was a professor at Central Michigan University, and could have easily stayed home ensconced in front of my own set, except for the guest speaker on the campus that night, who was the center of attention at this home.

The Jewish Faculty Group had invited Bruno Bettelheim to speak at an afternoon forum on campus, followed by a formal dinner, and then a casual get together at the professor’s home. Bettleheim, who was born in Austria in 1903, and imprisoned in German concentration camps, was released in 1939 and immigrated to the United States.

As a psychologist, he taught at the University of Chicago, and wrote extensively on autistic children, and offered insight for dealing with children. His book Children of the Dream (1967) dealt with the communal rearing of children in Israeli kibbutzim. Since I had spent parts of two years in Israel researching my dissertation topic, I wanted to talk with him.

I wove my way back and forth between watching the basketball game, and wending my way to wherever Bruno was surrounded by other faculty. Twas heaven to have intellectual stimulation in one room, and viewing an NCAA basketball championship in another room.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
On March 31st, Loyola will be playing Michigan, with one old-timer sitting on each bench, rooting for their teams.


On April 2nd, Villanova may be playing for another championship, and if I do watch it, it will be in the comfort of our home, with my wife Carmen by my side.






THIS & THAT #35

Shepard Was Shapiro
Until He Needed a Job
 Bernard Shepard was a nice Jewish boy from New York, but after graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in journalism and serving in WW2 as reporter for a military newspaper, he began looking for a full-time job.

Unfortunately, not too many media outlets were looking to hire a ”Shapiro,” so he changed his name to Shepard, and he did get job offers. Bernie eventually went back to college to get advanced degrees, and ended up teaching at Fresno State University, where I ended up from 1971 to 1973.

Bernie retired to Santa Cruz, and I would visit him and his wife June, who lived only five minutes away. Each time I stopped by, he was at his dining room table, which was filled with too many bottles of meds, accompanied by a plethora of medical bills.

When I commented on that as a fifty-four year old “youngster,” he would reply, “Your turn will come all too soon.”

It did, and Bernie died within a year or two.

The Medical Muddle
Has Become All Mine
 I am eighty-two, and although I don’t have as large accumulation of meds and bills as Bernie did, I continually have a load of medical problems, caused mainly by aging and dealing with doctors and insurance companies.

Let’s start at the top with the pre-cancerous and cancerous growths I need removed from my head, on a regular basis.

Twice a year, my regular doctor will spray the early growths with liquid nitrogen to kill them, and if the growths have found a dwelling on my head, he will either take to carving them out himself, or send me to a dermatologist trained in the MOHS method. The latter is more efficient, since the doctor keeps me in his office until all of the cancer is removed.

I go in, he does some carving, and then sends me to the waiting room while he can quickly measure whether or not his work has been successful. If not, I am brought back in for another slicing. He will continue to do this until I am cancer free.

My regular doctor, estimates where the growth is, slices that area, and I am sent home while the specimen is sent to the lab for an analysis. When I come back in a week, I get the verdict as to whether or not he caught the cancer.

After my March 12th operation, when I came back on March 19th to have the stitches removed, he told me that the lab’s biopsy revealed that there were still some areas to be worked on. That’s when he suggested that I go to the MOHS man.

My First Medical Concierge
 When I called the MOHS man’s main office, I was told that the earliest I could be seen would be on April 17th, which was too far in the future for me. I called again, asked specifically for the MOHS man, and left a message with Kathy, who was his “concierge.” I persuaded her to move the date up, and it’s now scheduled for tomorrow, March 27.

I called this morning asking what meds I should stop taking before the procedure,
and the receptionist called back immediately. Tomorrow is not a procedure day, the appointment is for the MOH’s man to look at you, evaluate you, and then schedule a date in the future for the procedure.

I carefully explained that my primary doctor had sent the MOH’s man the complete lab results of the first procedure, but the concierge said that I have to be examined in person before he would even think about cutting into me.

So tomorrow, I will go in for an hour, be examined, and that appointment is to determine what is to be eventually done and when.


An appointment for an appointment sounds like a way to add to the Medicare billing,
and cost me some more time in a waiting room.


My only hope for satisfaction tomorrow is if I get to meet a medical concierge for the first time ever.


Friday, March 23, 2018

THIS & THAT #34

US VERSUS THEM

Sexism. Racism. Ageism. 
They are here to stay, as long as we let them.

Sexism
As a youth, some seventy-years ago, it was a world where I saw no real battles between males and females. Those in power in my world were principals, and in elementary school the power rested in the control of Mary Sullivan, the larger than life leader at Brady Elementary School. During World War Two, whenever there was an air raid drill, all students and professors would gather in the halls as Mrs. Sullivan pounded on the keys of a small piano, and led us I the singing of powerful, patriotic songs. I can still picture her, sitting on a small stool, as her abundant behind hung over the stool’s edge. That still remains as the strongest memory I have of participating in the War.


Racism
Today, March 19, a distinguished elected black official displayed his innate intelligence. No, it wasn’t Ben Carson buying unnecessary and expensive office furniture, although his inane
actions matched those of most of Trump’s incompetent, inexperience cabinet members. 

It was when DC councilman Trayon White posted a video to Facebook with the following narration: "Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y'all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation.” He kept talking about, 'We a resilient city.' And that's a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful." That could be considered, by some, as an anti-Semitic remark, and even forget about the quality of his ebonomical language selection.

When I taught at the University of Detroit in the late 1970s, the media reported that members of Detroit’s all-Black Board of Education had cut some of the necessary services for Detroit’s students, who were mainly Black. Yet, many of the board members were being chauffeured around town in limousines. When I spoke with one of my own college students, a Black woman in her mid-thirties, who had two children in the public school system, she defended the practice. “You did this for years, now it’s our turn.”

Believe she was referring to me as the “you,” since I was white.

Ageism
It once seemed semi-flattering to be called “Sir” by teenage girls selling tickets and refreshments at a movie theatre. However, I was a reverse racist before machines were able to tell them the correct change that was due. It was difficult to do so if the costs for popcorn and a drink came to $3.83, and I gave them $4.08. They usually had a problem subtracting one from the other, and handing me a quarter in change.

When I taught journalism at a college, I would send my writing students out to the streets of San Jose, and have them describe a scene. I was in my late thirties at the time, and invariably, one student would write, “An elderly man sat alone at a bus stop.” When I asked the student in her twenties what she meant by “an elderly man,” in most instances the reply was that the man was in his forties.

Sadly, Some Elected Officials
Are Sexists, Racists and Ageists
You can start at the bottom, with the President, who manages to incorporate all of these attributes. Some times he does so in the same tweet. 

However, by the next tweet, he has a whole new outlook on the subject. Some of his supporters are pleased that he is flexible in his thinking; others are frightened, not knowing what comes next.

As Far as Sexism
The women connected to the Democratic Party, are out to take over the world because they believe that it’s their turn, much like the Blacks felt in Detroit. It’s a fine idea, but first you have to learn the basics about political life, and how to run a successful campaign.

I applaud the young women and men who are trying to change the country with their actions after the massacre in Florida, but they should not learn from the actions of the current and former female leaders of the Democratic Party.  The following three “leaders,” helped put Donald J. Trump in the White House.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida congressperson, managed to help divide the party in 2016, by refusing to provide Bernie Sanders’ people access to the party’s mailing list.  

When Schultz was Democratic National Committee’s chair, she allowed Hillary Clinton’s Campaign to seize control of the DNC months before Clinton’s nomination. According to Donna Brazile this diverted resources from state parties, and denied Sanders any chance on winning the nomination.

Then there’s Donna Brazile, who was an officer and then chair of the DNC, who contradicts herself in her book “Hacks.” She says she was trying to help make the nominating process honest, yet she admitted that she passed Democratic primary debate questions on to Clinton. 
She obtained the questions through her position as a CNN political analyst. Since she was vice chair of the DNC at the time, it added to the strong impression that the very biased DNC, heavily favored Clinton.

Then you have Clinton and her ill-prepared advisors, who forgot that needed electoral college votes are found outside Democratic strongholds in the far west and near east. While Clinton’s naïve advisors projected her to win the popular vote, they convinced the equally naïve Clinton, that she didn’t need to waste her time campaigning in Michigan (16 electoral college votes), Wisconsin (10), and Iowa (6). If she had won the electoral votes in those states along with her “native” state of Arkansas (6), she would have totaled 270 Electoral College votes, to Trump’s total of 268.

It didn’t help that Clinton alienated voters by calling those who supported Trump as being beneath her station, labeling them as “a basket of deplorables.” At the same time, she was feeding her own coffers with $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.


However, she is consistent and when she recently told an audience in India, that states that supported her in 2016 were more culturally and economically advanced than those that backed Trump. She stated that women who voted for Trump may have been motivated by “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.”

Let the Future Begin
The Sooner the Better
There’s hope for the future with the young trying to change the country, one step at a time. Since most of the older, elected legislative representatives are afraid to do anything, afraid of the NRA, afraid of losing their power, afraid of how Donald will turn on them, then let us hope that the students will bring their energy and enthusiasm and help elect representatives, who have the betterment of our disintegrating society as their goal.

Do not let the weak and cautious people in power steer you away from your goals. Do not trust any official who tells you they are with you, after they have been against you up until it’s time for you to vote.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

REUNIONS

“If I Am Still Alive in July, I Plan On Being There” This week we are having our semi-annual, mini-reunion lunch in San Jose with four Japanese-American friends, whose ages range from 86 to 95.
I just wished one friend here in Santa Cruz a Happy 90th, another has a 93rd coming up, and two more long-term friends just “celebrated” their 90th birthdays. When we speak nowadays, we jokingly talk about the Golden Years being mainly filled with rust. But at least we are all still talking, although it seems that each week I learn of further woes that have noticeably slowed down contemporaries of mine. One long-time friend was in ICU for three weeks after a heart attack, someone else was having yet another operation, and another from high-school days in Detroit is barely alive with necessary tubes protruding from various areas of his body. I turn eighty-two this month, and most of my high-school friends are now eighty-three. Somehow, I jumped from grade 5A at Brady Elementary School in Detroit to grade 6A, and don’t remember earning that promotion. However, because of it, I have friends that are mainly six months older than I. THE GOOD OLDE DAZE When we get together in Detroit this July for the 65th anniversary of our high school graduation, among other topics, we may reminisce about the “good olde days,” some of which never occurred. We may learn about who had died, when and how, what our compatriot’s children had accomplished, how their grandchildren are doing, and in some instances, what’s doing with great-grandchildren. If you live miles away or an ocean apart as I do, you can stay in touch via email, telephone, Skype, Face Time, and with typed or handwritten letters. I am the only person I know who still uses pen and ink to connect, and I don’t know if I know myself that well. I also help the U.S. Post Office; each time I affix another “Forever” stamp on an envelope. Although we are on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, we are fortunate to have old Central High friends like Bernie Portnoy and his wife Chris from Naples, Florida stop by when they are in the neighborhood. Even a short reunion, helps keep a sixty-eight year friendship flourishing . STAYING ALIVE There were more than five hundred others who graduated from Central High School in the 1952-53 class along with me. At the 50th reunion in 2003, there were eighty-seven names of former classmates listed in the class booklet on the “In Memorium” page. In the 2013 booklet, there was no such page, for it was agreed upon that such an expanded listing would be too depressing. The physical get together, including the dinner, was spread over many hours, and there were one-hundred forty-five alums at the last reunion in 2013. I was there for four hours, and if I had been able to talk with every classmate, I would have had just a few minutes with each. I have been living away from the Detroit area since 1986 (this time), and at other times from 1960-1962, and 1969-1973. I have not been in close contact with most of the CHS class of 1953. Although I searched for certain friends at that reunion, afterwards, I found to my dismay, that some of those whom I sought were there, but because of the years in-between, I had not recognized them, or they me. Perhaps, they had recognized me, but didn’t want to be recognized.
When it comes to connecting with others at the actual, physical reunion at the Glen Oaks Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan this July, even with a reduced number of attendees, visiting with one another for more than a few minutes, becomes a daunting task. TRY TO REMEMBER If you do recognize “an old friend,” that does not necessarily mean that a scintillating conversation will take place. With our memories fading by chance and by choice, many tend to deliberately forget or revise the stories we actually lived way back when. When I first drove to California in 1960 with a Detroit friend, we ended up in Long Beach where there was a fishing boat accident. Our timing was right, and we photographed the injured captain being taken away by rescuers. We drove down to the Los Angeles Times, and they bought our shots and paid us for them. On my second day in LA, our photograph appeared on page two. Twenty years later, my friend and I were at a party, and after I told this story, my friend bragged about the $250 we were paid. That sum didn’t seem right, and when I returned home, I went through my freelance file and found the duplicate of the Times check in the amount of $25. I realize that inflation may have occurred, but at gatherings we all may have a tendency to elaborate and enhance the details of what has happened to us in the past. I expect that to happen to some degree next July.