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Kids today …

5:49 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

If You Go Down To The Woods Today
A bloke called Jerm – flickr creative commons

I have a very difficult time relating to kids. My childhood was so vastly different from theirs in just about every way imaginable, it isn’t funny. No high tech toys, just TV, telephone and radio. I grew up in northeastern Ohio in a very small town, or rather township of Burton Ohio, in Geauga County.

Initially, in the first house my father built, a small two bedroom affair on State Road 87, Kingsman Road. Lived there until I was six years old and we had two brothers younger than me. I was the oldest, first born. My father then bought land on Butternut Road not far from there and built a much larger place on three acres of land. Nearly all of it wooded, most heavily so.  The road was a dirt road at the time and had very little traffic. The parcel was but a small part of a larger wooded area that went back for another 5 to 10 acres. On one side was a field that later became a dirt parking lot to a small golf coarse the son of the original owner of all the land there put in.

The original lands was part of one or two farms and an old coal mine, the entry to and ventilation hole for which you still find today. As we got older, my siblings and I had pretty much free rein of the woods, and except in the winter, it was the area of choice for whatever fun we chose to have – with small springs, run-off gullies, trees, fields…you name it. My rural education came from there, along with having friends that lived on farms – some worked regularly, some not. Barns and silos and farm animals of all sorts. Pigs and goats and chickens and cows and ..  We even had loan of two goats from some friends for awhile, which I loved.

My city education came from visiting my cousins who lived on the west side of Cleveland at West 84 street and Denison, in a very blue collar neighborhood, all the houses built in the 1920s, two-story type. My cousin Matt and I would travel on bikes all around the west side, sometimes driving my grandmother to distraction – she lived there as well.

Conversely, they would come out to our place in the summer for a few weeks, and also on the weekends when my aunt and uncle would work on a house in Burton they owned and rented out. Once when I was around 10, my father bought a Chevy Microbus and we began camping across Pennsylvania in the state parks on our way to visit my grandparents who lived outside of Philadelphia. One year my cousin Matt came with us as well.

All this came to an end in the fall of 1963 when my father decided to move the family down to Florida, eventually choosing Coral Gables. While waiting for the real estate agent to sign on a house, my father had a brain hemorrhage and died. After getting the estate settled and living with my grandparents outside Philly, my mother moved us to Naples, Florida, which at that time was not much bigger than Burton Ohio.

Now where is this all leading? And how does it all relate to today’s kids?

I often go the the various Cleveland Metro Parks reservation to hike a bit and take pictures, like I did today. I often see parents with kids by the hand and strollers and – like today – some on a field trip, today’s group from a summer camp up in Mentor, Ohio.

Most here know me as a geek from previous diaries, but when I was young, and even now, the geeky radio and electronics was primarily a winter thing. Summer was outside in the woods. There were no parents or grownups around. Nobody to make sure we did not fall into the pond and drown; f we got bit or fell out of a tree; if we survived [and I know of no one who did not] we got talked to [chewed out] for being such a dumb ass. It was a learning experience. So when I see kids being hand-held through their exposure to nature, I feel sorry for them and afraid for them. They likely will not experience nature in the raw, like I did.

As a child I was very very fortunate in this. I appreciate nature and respect nature and am very comfortable with nature. Most of those like me and of my generation were not protected from the world, but encouraged to explore it; not to see the world only as something to satiate out insatiable appetites.

I feel sad about kids today.

Cleveland Gets a Chance [To Be Screwed] By the RNC

6:17 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Clint Eastwood talks to an empty chair – DonkeyHotey

Well it seems that the RNC has chosen Cleveland for the Pointless Political Schmooze-Fest.

As they look to the Republican National Convention arriving in 2016, Cleveland business leaders are envisioning themselves as storytellers.

They see an opportunity to present a new, more accurate image of Cleveland to a curious world.

A fresh perspective, they expect, will spark a new era of business interest and investment.

Oh really? Well, guess who foots the bill which can cost up to $100 million bucks to the tax payer?

Federal taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $136 million to cover the cost of the major political parties’ presidential nominating conventions.

That’s the estimated total taxpayer tab of this week’s Republican Party National Convention in Florida, and next week’s Democratic Party National Convention in North Carolina.

And that does not include how much the city will wind up paying in the end to clean up their mess. As I commented to the Cleveland.com article above. “Does Cleveland really want to play host to a bunch of sociopathic,narcissistic megalomaniac Tea Party creeps masquerading as a political party?” They and the Democrats have proven themselves to be cheapskates and deadbeats more than willing to give the host city and the taxpayers the shaft. It only marginally benefits the slimy business interests and gives everyone else the shaft.

Cleveland needs to Just Say NO to the GOP and the Democrats as well.

America: A Fantasy Game

8:09 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Robot Scrabble – flickr creative commons

I posted a link to my FB page from Alternet about the gun nuts and their power trip. An FB friend commented that it reminds her husband of the OK Coral and the Clantons. Maybe so, but I seriously doubt these clowns would engage in a shoot out with anybody. And in the “Old West” carrying a gun into town was generally not allowed.

Had a discussion with a friend the other day on this country’s infrastructure and how old and dilapidated it is.  That upgrading it would be pricey but would improve life immensely. This is done only for high price, new communities as a selling point. Places like Cleveland or Pittsburgh or even Chicago will still have the old wires on the verge of coming down. Like the ones out back of my humble abode.

Now, how do these two subjects tie together? Easy. If someone or some group really wanted to cause trouble, wanted to disrupt the status quo they could easily do it and without much effort or expense.

Another electric substation was attacked but the homemade device failed to detonate. Luck I guess.

I often go hiking to take nature pictures and very often the trails lead through areas where high tension cables are strung. Or near railroad tracks and sometimes both. Unguarded and unprotected. There are numerous sites — even with maps — that list and show where major communications cables and switching networks are located.

Bridges and overpasses and what not.

Now with such vulnerability that even a minor natural occurrence such as a hurricane or earthquake can be very disruptive, how come even the most extreme groups on either side of the isle have not launched even a small attempt to cause chaos? With all the big talk and open carry and all.

Because it would be very disruptive on a personal level. Living in Florida and going through many hurricanes the one thing I notice was peoples biggest concern was for things to “get back to normal.” In other wards for the status quo to return. The cable and electricity back on and the burger joint open.

As much as everyone bitches, moans, complains and even threatens mayhem concerning the status quo, nobody really wants it to change. Everyone wants a major change it the situation but with one main and overwhelming proviso: that it won’t prevent them from going to the local quicky stop store to get a carton of milk, a couple of six packs of beer and a carton of cigarettes.

They just do not want the inconvenience. In fact, the very thought scares the hell out of them because without the status quo, they do not know what to do.

As a culture America has become completely dependent of the very things we now despise. And the elites know it. That as much as people rail about capitalism, it’s injustices and environmental destruction there is no way anyone is willing to put it in jeopardy. And the elites know it.

In the late 1960s a group called The Jefferson Airplane put out an album called Volunteers. The theme of witch was tearing down a system that was unjust, unfair and despised. The very system that enabled this same group to charge thousands of dollars for a concert and collect even more in record sale. Obviously a fantasy album. Would make a great computer game, don’t you think ?

Andrew Levine on Tea Party Smarts and the Poison of Ted Cruz

6:31 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

According to Wikipedia the Tea Party movement is not even a party, it’s …

Several polls have been conducted on the demographics of the movement. Though the various polls sometimes turn up slightly different results, they tend to show that Tea Party supporters tend more likely than Americans overall to be white, male, married, older than 45, regularly attending religious services, conservative, and to be more wealthy and have more education. Broadly speaking, multiple surveys have found between 10% and 30% of Americans identify as a member of the Tea Party movement. Most Republicans and 20% of Democrats support the movement.

And as Levine points out, Ted Cruz and David Brat are the epitome of this. Both being graduates of the most prestigious private Universities. Both doing very well academically, even graduating magna cum laude. Indeed though there are those who say it’s just a racist movement first popularized in the South, it really is more – and less – than that.

They and Cruz are not the elite but worship those who do have money, especially the elites. They think that everything should be privately owned and bought and sold. They love “free market” capitalism but are hardly libertarian.

The dominant inflection is libertarian. But Tea Party libertarianism is more visceral than philosophical. Tea Partiers talk an earful about freedom, but what they really want is freedom from government interference in areas that matter to them.

Racism and bigotry is only a part of it, for they despise anyone who is not like them. Most especially those below them, those they see as having servitude as their only worth. I read once where racism is only the ultimate in snobbery. Tea Partiers are the ultimate snobs – and snots.

Tea Partiers are also averse to state programs that advance the well being of the least well off, especially when they are not white. In this respect, the Tea Party is like many other right-wing political movements throughout the world. It has a xenophobic, nationalistic and, more or less explicitly, racist tinge.

Mind you, this is primarily about economic and class division, and keeping minorities poor, keeping them as cheap labor.

Levine wonders about their fixation on gun ownership and how these tea party people could also be so educated, maybe not realizing that both go hand in hand. That they feel and believe their high incomes and bank accounts entitle them to be able to defend their possessions and wealth by any means necessary.

One other little item, I would wager that few if any served in the military because their attitude would not be tolerated there for a minute. I say this without fear of contradiction since their attitude toward those who have served is the same as their attitude toward anyone else who is not white and well off.

Levine also explores the Tea Party’s lack of any real political convictions. This is simply because they have no conviction at all outside of their own personal well being.

Let me remind you of who we are talking about. Not those poor whites who associated themselves with the movement, but the upper crust. Lawyers and Doctors and Executives and College Professors and Bankers and Stockbrokers and all. The ones who live in exclusive neighborhoods and high rises and condos and want very much to keep them that way, exclusive.  Who want to keep their country clubs off limits to anyone they deem their lessors. And their schools and their neighborhoods and their doctors, office and hospitals …

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Hurricane Arthur

11:47 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Arthur

The first hurricane of the season has arrived and with gusto. Hurricane Arthur is expected to brush the North Carolina coast later tonight or very early tomorrow morning. The latest advisory and tracking information can be obtained on the National Hurricane Center’s web site. And I must say for the first one of the season, it is an impressive looking storm.

Currently with winds of 90 Mph, Arthur’s a strong Category 1 storm that is expected to further strengthen to a Category 2 storm with winds over 100 mph. Not all that strong by most standards but still dangerous.

One thing I’ve noticed in the past 15 or so years has not been the strength of the storms in wind speed but the size in the area covered and the wind field. The last compact storm I remember was Hurricane Andrew which devasted South Miami and Miami in 1992. It was a Category 5 storm that decimated South Miami but was small in area covered. Living in central Florida at the time, we had no effects from the storm whatsoever. Yet even though I was in Central Florida in 2005 when Katrina was in the Gulf, we had rain bands from the storm and it covered almost the entire Gulf of Mexico.

I lived in Florida from 1964 until I retired in 2012 and I remember going through many Hurricanes, from small ones to big ones like Cleo and Betsy, but none of them affected such a large area. And this is the one major change I have seen.

We may or may not have more hurricanes and they may or may not have stronger winds, but hurricanes are noticeably larger in area and affect more people. Even if a hurricane or tropical storm does not pass over or even near your area, the rain bands can -and often do- spawn small tornadoes that can be very damaging. And now we have even more people living on the coastal areas and being at risk.

Downtown … Or Poor is The New Black ?

7:35 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

A historic trolley outside a museum

Segregation has changed since the trolley’s heyday, but it hasn’t disappeared.

While growing up in North East Ohio, I spent a lot of time in Cleveland visiting my cousins on the west side. They would take me into downtown Public Square to go shopping or see a movie at the big movie houses there on Euclid Av. I remember riding one of the last Trackless Trolleys downtown on Lorain Av, In elementary school we took a field trip where we road a train into Cleveland, which at that time still had a station in the Terminal Tower.  Went up to the viewing area at the top, had lunch and then back.

Yes, at that time everything one might want to see and do was downtown.

Of course, there were shopping centers too, but the big stores were all downtown — May Company, Higbees, Hally Bro., a big Rexal Drugs with this big soda fountain and on and on. One thing you did not see very often, it at all, were blacks downtown and rarely on the buses and rapid transit trains. I do not ever remember see blacks on the Shaker Heights rapid transit and you never saw blacks in Shaker Square, even though Shaker Square was not part of the city of Shaker Heights.

Ohio had gotten rid of it’s Jim Crow laws a while ago, like most northern states, but before civil rights, businesses and public transportation could refuse service and most did. Pittsburgh and Phillie and most northern cities were the same. Blacks were highly segregated to black areas with black stores and black schools and black churches. The only reason black people went downtown was to work, which nearly always consisted of menial jobs as cleaners and janitors and maids, etc. Liberals like to think that segregation as mostly a southern thing, but northern cites were just as segregated if not more so.

It’s no coincidence that when the Civil Rights Acts got passed, white flight to the suburbs took off like gang busters. Whites stop going downtown to shop. Now the blacks and other minorities were there, it was now considered “too dangerous” and the suburban shopping malls began to appear. Nearly all of which were in the middle class and upper middle class white neighborhoods, replacing the downtown stores and the smaller shopping centers.

In Cleveland one of the biggest and most used was Parmatown Mall. With May company and Higbees and Sears and a megaplex theater and all the smaller shops one could imagine. One did not do Christmas with out a trip to Parma Town. Right in the heart of white middle classdum.

With the down turn in the economy which began in the 1970s, even the all white suburbs began to empty. The Fair Housing Act said you could not discriminate in housing, so blacks and minorities began to settle in the previously all white suburbs. That and the rising cost of maintaining those behemoth edifices of consumerism condemned the shopping mall to eventual demise, in all but the most wealthy neighborhoods. Suburban whites would fly even further out to even more upper crust areas, using housing price inflation to keep out those they did not want in.

Another aspect of this was that when the whites fled to suburbia, they took their tax money and federal grants with them. Even federal money that was supposed to help those left behind in the cities.

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Revolution Number 9

10:14 am in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Peasants revolting – flickr creative commons

Oh the silly fantasies and dreams one can come across while perusing the various news sites. The right wing in this country wants to be prepared for a race war or wants to take over Washington. The last time I checked, they couldn’t even must more than 10 people to demonstrate there. I doubt seriously there are enough to who are willing to play hero or martyr among them. Because any attempt would be meat by enough force to turn them all into bloody grease spots.

The left wing keeps yapping about “the people will rise up and take to the streets” or some such. Well go ahead but also remember what happened to OWS who were as peaceful as a sleeping sloth, as well as what happened to the protesters at Kent State, They all are branded as “domestic terrorists” and delt with accordingly. The Russians found this out in 1905.

Any direct confrontation or obvious approach is a guerrilla war of resistance. Simply put. you must fight the system anyway and every way you can. Gum up the works.

Do not cooperate in any manner, way shape or form.  Plead ignorance to any questions. Keep your big mouth shut. Sock it to the “man.” The point being to make it as difficult and expensive to the system as possible. While helping your brothers as much as possible. Not giving any one of the elites or their minions a break.

Use the system against itself. Like the martial arts uses it’s opponents against them selves.

I know there are those who want to take some kind of “direct action” but such action should be limited to things like heaving dead skunks in to some rich fuckers pool or garden. I read where low level sound can drive people round the bend.

In other words giving out the message that their behavior will have consequences.

At the same time helping those who have no resource or recourse as best you can. This is how the revolutionaries win wars when hopelessly out gunned.

An appropriate number now.

Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This

3:28 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Sweetener – flickr creative commons

I was searching the internet a while ago for the sweeteners i generally use. One being the alcohol base sugar substitute and the other containing stevia, when I notice a news story about a class action lawsuit against the makers of Truvia™. The result of which is the same as has been the same as most of these lawsuits. A fine, no admittance of guilt or culpability, and everything remains the same. Essentially nothing.  Little — if any — effect on their business or business practices.

The same thing pretty much happened with all the woop-tee-doo over “Big Tobacco” and cigarettes. The companies are still doing just fine. And people are still smoking and it will not go away, for the same reason sex won’t go away. Those who smoke enjoy doing it far too much and for very similar reasons as sex. [A subject for another diary].

The justice system and courts in this country act as a deflector to any real change too. Meaningless laws get passed and most ignore them.

But this diary is about symbolism. All of these are very symbolic gestures and, ever since the Vietnam-era, the left, liberals and especially Democrats love symbolism. They see it as the best way to say ‘fuck you’ without actually doing it.

Symbolism is great. You can make an over-the-top statement without putting you lifestyle, lack of principles or the status quo in any danger. Obama was the ultimate symbol and Hillary will be the next great symbol. Democrats will flock to her side and so will liberals.

And once again nothing will change. But liberals will still dream about how the revolution will come down. Of course, if it ever did they would likely shit in their pants.

They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. –George Carlin

Getting Old …

12:48 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

I wrote this because I had my 65th birthday on the 14th of this month. I am now on Medicare and a supplement plan. Whoppy doo!

We hear and see stories of people living tom be 100 or more, 82-year-old’s that still run the Boston Marathon and hike up mount sides and what not. Mostly the human interest sections of the news or on Huffington Post, etc. Wonder if it has occurred to anyone why you hear about? Why it’s considered news? The reason should be clear. It’s still news because it’s still damn rare, that’s why.

Truth is that getting old can suck. The scientific explanation I last read is that over time one’s DNA gets corrupted and screwed up and if your DNA is mediocre at best, then things begin to go wrong. Like that old used Chevy Bel Air in the barn, stuff starts to fail and fall off.

We are led to believe — mostly by Hollywood and writers, but now the medical profession — that we can grow and die comfortably. What a load of horse crap. Verbal manure. There are so many things that can begin to go wrong as one ages. Neural degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, MS (Multiple sclerosis), Huntington’s chorea, Lou Gehrig’s disease. Cancer of anything except the hair and nails. Various forms of cardiac disease and circulatory disease.  Bone disease like arthritis and  Osteoporosis.

Nearly all of which are more torturous as time goes on. The only good news is, the medications to treat them — nearly all of which have side effects as unpleasant as the disease itself.

Hear is the reality check in all of this: If you think your going to live out a long and happy life and then die peaceably, that only happens the the movies or if you take an overdose of something.

My cousin on my mother’s side has MS [which I may have as well, I can say yes to 14 of the 16 symptoms]. My grandfather on my mother’s side died of a heart attack but it took 3 to kill him. My aunt on my mother’s side died of complications from a brain disorder. My father died of a brain haemorrhage, cause unknown [ I suspect a tumor]. My grandmother on my mother’s side died in her sleep at 90 something. And on and on.

And yet, we put ourselves with torture or let other’s do it, thinking by doing so we can beat the reaper — when we could instead just enjoy ourselves and our lives.

Guilty!

5:12 pm in Uncategorized by cmaukonen

Antique Handcuffs – flickr creative commons

I have been thinking a lot about this lately: this country has one big, gigantic, humongous guilt complex and shame complex. People in this country and culture feel guilt over nearly everything they do.

And most especially what they enjoy doing. Rarely well you see those who engage in practices they enjoy come out and say they do them simply because they enjoy doing them. Whether its sex, drinking, smoking, drugs, sports, walking, running or what not. They always have to have some cock-a-mamie justification or excuse.  We feel guilty about the house we live in, car we drive, job we have. We are made to feel guilt about being sick or getting old, as if we had anything to do with it.

We even feel guilty about the wars we rage. That’s why our foreign policy makes no damn sense. About the only thing we DON’T feel guilty about is making money and it’s those at the top who least likely to feel guilty about it.

Not only do we go to great lengths to make others feel guilty about what they are doing, we make laws that will still allow us to engage in those things we enjoy but bury our guilty feelings. Especially the religious right, who seem to believe it’s their God-given duty to do so. Yet they seem to believe that being so damn religious and self-righteous, they have a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. But consider this, why would one think they need a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card if they did not deep down think that they belonged in jail in the first place?

I smoke because I like it. It feels good. I don’t drink because I don’t like it. Clean, clear and to the point. And honest and I do not feel the least bit guilty.

The hardest thing is to get people to admit what they do and why. I was in group therapy a while back and one person was working on their relationship issues and sexual hang-ups. The therapist asked this person if they masturbated. It took a hell of a lot of prodding the get this person to admit that yes, they did. Now the tuffy — the therapist then asked why? After even more hemming and hawing by the person in question, the therapist got really frustrated and finally said, “You masturbate because you like it. It’s fun.” Believe it or not, the person in question STILL could not admit that that was the primary reason.

It’s this country’s puritan crap background that I think is one of the leading causes for it. From the start we are brainwashed that anything we enjoy doing is therefore bad and sinful and has to be avoided. Even after all these years we still carry around this rotten, horrible baggage. And the religious right goes completely ballistic if we admit we do what what we do because it makes us happy and feel good. About the only people who lack this guilt are Wall Street tycoons, priests and the police. We even work ourselves to death and feel guilty about not working harder.

The Germans — and most Europeans — drink hard, and smoke hard and relax but do not feel guilty about it. And yet they are healthier than us and live longer.

We are killing ourselves not by what we do but how we do it and how we feel about, which leads to over eating, over drinking and other obsessive and compulsive behaviors to feel good. Mostly about those other things we do that we like and make us feel good. WTF?

We need to give up guilt because one of the best ways for those in power to control those who are not is through guilt and shame.