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December 10, 2016

Mutt and Jeff, the Survivors

Mutt: Whew, that was close.
Jeff: You're telling me.
Mutt: Coulda been worse.
Jeff: What? Charlie Manson for President? Jim Jones? Jeff Dahmer?
Mutt: Hell, we could have elected Donald Trump!
Jeff: Nah, that could never happen.
Mutt: We've been away too long.
Jeff: Third class passage wasn't that bad. But I still can't paddle a boat, canoe?
Mutt: What do you call a cardboard belt?
Jeff: Oh, we're going to start right in with the bad jokes?
Mutt: A waist of paper.
Jeff: Okay, did you hear about the mathematician who was afraid of negative numbers?
Mutt: I bet he stopped at nothing to avoid them.
Jeff: So what do you call a deer with no eyes?
Mutt: No idea.
Jeff: So what do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?
Mutt: Still no idea. How old are the hills? That joke is older.
Jeff: A medical question: what's the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer?
Mutt: I'd say the taste mainly.
Jeff: A guy's driving when he sees a bar and decides to stop for a drink. There's a bouncer who stops him and says, "Sorry. You need to have a tie to get in." The guy goes back to his car and looks for a tie, but can't find one, so he puts jumper cables around his neck and goes back to the bar. The bouncer sees him, chuckles, and says, "Okay, go on in, but don't start anything."
Mutt: I gave away all of my dead batteries today.
Jeff: Oh, yeah.
Mutt: Free of charge.
Jeff: I was at an ATM this morning and this older lady asks me to help her check her balance.
Mutt: Did you?
Jeff: Yeah, I pushed her over.
Mutt: What's the difference between a nicely dressed man on a unicycle and a poorly dressed man on a bicycle?
Jeff: I'm guessing attire.
Mutt: What did the executioner say before going to work?
Jeff: Time to head off.
Mutt: For me too.
Jeff: See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya.

December 9, 2016

Wait, wait. I'm not ready.

Maybe we aren't ready. For enlightenment. Maybe the recent election is a message about the work we haven't done on ourselves. We, as Americans, seem immature, spiritually unprepared for our present or future. Our cell phones are progressing so fast because they're machines, objects that we focus on. Humans need generations to progress, if we really do. When I was younger I pointed to the end of slavery as proof of progress, but now they say there are more slaves (many sex slaves, many children) in the world than ever before. What kind of human being is involved in human trafficking? How can we invite them into our family?

What kind of selfishness is dominating our world? The bullying, the hatred, fear-mongering, the obsession with money. In our literature bullies are the evil villains, when did they become heroes? We humans, we Americans, can't separate ourselves by who we voted for; we all need to do better, be better. But that takes decades, right? And it's not linear or measureable. We're not machines that can be upgraded to newer models. It's hard to be better. And we're lazy.

Since I was a boy I've seen progressively less open racism (until now). Were people just hiding their bigotry and fear because it was unpopular to voice or did they really change inside? What does deep change take? Education, meditation, legislation? Sesame Street?

Women (who we all come from) have been stifled and abused for millennia, now can they finally be truly equal to men? Well, hell yes! Except that it doesn't seem to be happening. Like there's an ominous Trump-shaped male shadow stalking behind every free strong woman. Such an easy thing as equal pay, which most countries in Europe take for granted, is so hard to pass. In a male-dominated Congress. Such an easy thing as a female president ... Such need for protection, yet one third of all women ...

I get angry, frustrated, bitter. I lose it, I rant. These are reflex reactions that I need to change. Jane Goodall told us that apes make war, so someone asked her if that means it's inevitable for humans too, and she answered, "No, because we have self-control." We're not Neanderthals because we have self-control. We don't have to give in to base instincts, violence, to the ugliness in ourselves, because we have self-control. Or do we? We even have trouble not over-eating.

I'm confused. I feel inadequate. Not up to the task. Global-warming, for example, is so huge and I'm so small. My part in the disaster or the solution is so unclear. And we're all called to save our world, but we're not superheroes. It'll take hard work, lifetimes of commitment. I feel I need to work on myself to prepare, like a samurai swordsman or a concert violinist I need constant practice and training to be able to take on the dark side and win. Yet action can't wait; I still have to get the job done now.

So it's stretch, smile, focus on love and justice and peace, and get started on my new day.

Happy trials, Martin

Mutt and Jeff get back tomorrow from their ocean cruise on the Titanic.

November 27, 2016

Make America Fail Again?

Is 'do what works' illogical to some people? The majority? Can a society be suicidal, masochistic, self-mutilating?

And can you read numbers? Do you care more for slogans or facts? Here are the last fifteen years:

Finally, one of the great scenes in TV history from 2012:

November 18, 2016

New National Anthem

I'm officially proposing this Tom Petty (and the Heart Breakers) song as our national anthem for the next four years. In part this is due to the objectionable phrase, "the hireling and slave," in the current anthem. Partly because we need reminding every day to stay strong and hold the line against fascism.

While I'm at it, let me show you the cover of Petty's recent album with his old group Mudcrutch. It's a photo taken by my great-grandfather, Louis H. Pedersen, published in the National Geographic in 1916. My cousin Dan writes a terrific blog, and you can find the full story of the bear photo here.

November 15, 2016

Definitions 2

Xenophobe: a person unduly fearful of what is foreign and especially of people of foreign origin.

White supremacist: a person who believes in a racist ideology centered upon the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior in certain characteristics, traits, and attributes to people of other racial backgrounds and that therefore white people should politically, economically and socially rule non-white people.

Autocrat: a person invested with or claiming to exercise absolute authority. A person who behaves in an authoritarian manner; a domineering person.

Megalomaniac: a person with a mania for great or grandiose performance, which comes from a delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur. A megalomaniac will have an unnaturally strong wish for power and control, or the belief that he/she is very much more important and powerful than they really are.

Nationalist: a person with a devotion, especially excessive or undiscriminating devotion, to the interests or culture of a particular nation-state and a belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international goals.

Authoritarian: favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom. Synonyms include: autocratic, dictatorial, totalitarian, despotic, tyrannical, autarchic, draconian, absolute, arbitrary, oppressive, repressive, illiberal, undemocratic, anti-democratic.

Oligarch: a person who believes that a country, business, etc., should be controlled by a small group of people. The leader of a small group of people who control the government.

Conspiracy theorist: one who expounds a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for an unexplained event.

Hypocrite: someone who says they have particular moral beliefs but behaves in way that shows these are not sincere: a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

Nuclear codes:  The Gold Codes are the launch codes for nuclear weapons provided to the Presidents of the United States in their role as Commander-in-Chief of the United States armed forces. In conjunction with the nuclear football, the Gold Codes allow the president to authorize a nuclear attack.

Last but not least:
Conscience: a person's moral sense of right and wrong, viewed as acting as a guide to one's behavior. The complex of ethical and moral principles that controls or inhibits the actions or thoughts of an individual.
See also: a guilty conscience, a question/matter of conscience, to follow the dictates of conscience.

Happy trials, Martin