Friday, September 29, 2023

I Was Thinking About Getting a Passport

Image by Anna ZieliƄska from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise 'em now, haunt them after I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring Dana: Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"Without opening your door, you can open your heart to the world." -Lao Tzu

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

I visited Mexico, once, in the late eighties, and I've been to Canada a few times. At the time all I needed to get into Canada, and return, was my driver's license. 

I needed a driver's license to get back into the USA from Mexico but when wild-eyed Walter and I walked over the bridge from Brownsville to Matamoros the gentleman in a booth on the Mexican side merely nodded to us as we strolled by.

I always thought it would be cool to have a passport and when, a few years back, I heard that Americans now needed a passport to travel to/return from either country it occurred to me that I should think about getting a passport, "just in case."

However, I'm not much of a traveler these days, never have been really, so I wasn't in a hurry. 

{A few years back? That policy went into effect 1/1/2008, 15 years ago!}

Thanks for pointing that out, Dana. 

Since then, things in Mexico have gotten a little too interesting in my opinion; I've seen Niagra Falls at least twice from the Canadian side — well worth the trip — but heading north out of Ohio (Canada's deep South) instead of in the opposite direction is nowadays counter-intuitive to me. 

Also, I came across a news story recently that has me wondering if things in Canada might be getting a little too interesting as well.

There's an ongoing kerfuffle concerning book banning in American schools. 

{You never tire of the K-word do you?}  

Being a former bibliophile (my ardor for books, not unlike many former fascinations, has diminished) and a dude who read and enjoyed Fahrenheit 451 way back when, book-banning stories always catch my eye. 

I admit that as a parent, grandparent, and semi-rational H. sapien that I have no problem with parents who are trying to get what amount to graphic sex manuals removed from little Johnny's/Joanie's/J's school library.

Unfortunately, many a news report on specific examples of this phenomenon paint all the parents involved as far-right wingnuts, homophobes, etc. but often what the parents are objecting to is content that's so graphic that... Well, here's an example:

Personally, what I find shocking is the willingness of many people/parents to bend over backward, in a rush to non-judgment, of age-inappropriate books, or anything else, to demonstrate how accepting, fair, and open-minded they are. 

If it feels good, or right, do it — or steal it, or set it on fire, or beat them up, or...

Here's a looong article from titled Closed Book — I watched "book bans" happen in real time. I thought they were all hysteria. Then I opened one of the most challenged titles — written by Aymann Ismail.

Long article short, Mr. Ismail admits the book in question, It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris, freaked him out, but only sort/kinda, cause he's a very sophisticated dude. 

But he also admits that although it's supposed to be appropriate for kids 10 and up he wouldn't want his kids reading it once they reach the age of ten.  

He goes on and on (and on) about why graphic sex manuals with illustrations, for kids and teens, are not necessarily a bad thing, and quotes experts, mentions book bannings, beats up on conservative Christian parents, and also... 

{Okay, fine, so now we know you're not sex-positive. What's this got to do with...}

Canada? Well, I don't know how he feels about graphic sex manuals for kids and teens, but the Ontario Minister of Education and some... enthusiastic librarians at the Erindale Secondary School have come up with an interesting way to protect kids from the pernicious threat of Pasty Patriarchical Hegemonistic Euro -imperialism — equity-based book weeding.

{You spelled patriarchal wrong.}

Yes, I did. 

The Harry Potter and Hunger Games books are history. Another looong (but much more interesting article as it's often unintentionally hilarious) on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website tells the tale.

"In May, [Mary]Takata says the shelves at Erindale Secondary School were full of books, but she noticed that they had gradually started to disappear. 'This [school] year, I came into my school library and there are rows and rows of empty shelves with absolutely no books,' said Takata...'

'In the spring,' Takata says students were told by staff that 'if the shelves look emptier right now it's because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008.'"

Where did all the books go? Why 2008? 

Ontario's Education Minister, the Honourable Stephen Lecce issued a directive and then a... 

{You spelled Honorable wrong.}

No, I didn't. 

As best I can tell — it's a complicated story and none of the parties involved are accepting blame — Mr. Lecce, based on the results of a report he commissioned, ordered an "equity-based weeding" of library books at Mary Takata's high school which is under the control of the Peel District School Board (PDSB). 

The 46-page report determined that the PDSB was running a district (45% South Asian, 17% white, 10% black, 6% East Asian, 5% Middle Eastern, 17% Others) that was a hotbed of anti-black racism in need of multiple reforms.

The equity-based "weeding" ordered by Ontario's Honourable Minister of Education was for all books published 15 or more years ago (2008). The librarians were to examine each and every book and apply an acronym, MUSTIE, to determine its fate. 

Was the book Misleading, Unpleasant (physical condition... in theory), Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant, or Elsewhere? You can discover details by reading the article. 

Unfortunately/hilariously, the librarians simply tossed all books published prior to 2008 in the trash. Allegedly, this was a mistake, a miscommunication. Personally, I hope they did it on purpose and are still exchanging secret smiles, or laughing out loud when hanging out at the librarian's water hole after work. 

The relevant parties aren't doing any finger-pointing, Canadians being much nicer people than ugly Americans. However, they've all issued bum-covering statements that read like they were composed by lawyers.

Big BUT, the members of a newly formed local organization called Libraries Not Landfills would like some answers. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Friday, September 22, 2023

A few Observations From a Garrulous Geezer

A Random Randomnesses Column

Image by Max Yakovlev from Pixabay

This is a weekly column of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise them now and haunt them when I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring Dana: Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device

"All you need is love." -John Lennon (A yellow submarine would be cool too) 

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),

You may be old, or at least getting there waaay too fast, when you encounter some input that reveals that hip-hop has been around long enough to join AARP having recently celebrated its 50th birthday and you're at least mildly shocked.  

"Kool Herc made history in 1973 when he and his sister hosted the “Back to School Jam” in the recreation room of their Bronx apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue. This historical party is recognized for launching the hip-hop movement."

If you must force yourself to face the fact the eighties are as significant to the many people who are younger than you as the 1960s are to you, you're definitely old.  


No but. Just because getting old is not what you thought it would be doesn't necessarily make you seem any younger to the young.

If it makes you feel any better, I personally regard most hip-hop as doggerel with a psyche-smashing backbeat. I heard Winton Marsalis refer to it as the new minstrelsy somewhere, and no shortage of other H. sapiens seem to hold the same opinion.

However, I'm old; I yell at clouds, and no shortage of ancient infidels were appalled by the traditional rock 'n' roll that I fell in love with. A relationship that endures, but ain't what it used to be.

Music fans are aware that at some point after WW2 recording technology advanced to the point that musicians and recording techies gradually began using the technology to not only dramatically improve the sound quality of the recordings, it enabled them to turn recording studios into musical instruments.  

It became possible to create songs that were difficult to play live. Purists complained, most musicians, and most of the public (including me, growing up while taking it for granted) embraced it. 

Very long story short, technology kept/keeps rapidly evolving, and now unapologetic "disrupters" are using AI to write and even "perform" songs constructed of the pieces/parts of potentially anything ever recorded. 

We've gone from H. sapiens creatively using comparatively limited technology to the ability to "borrow" chunks of the work of others and create mash-ups using computer-generated "instruments" and/or computer-enhanced real instruments and/or computer-generated voices and/or computer-enhanced voices.

And for some mysterious reason, it sounds cold, repetitive, and empty despite regularly adding in some eardrum-busting bass to try and give it some soul. 

I've written about encountering the phrases based on facts that meet fiction and representationally accurate that I've seen used in place of the formerly ubiquitous based on a true story.

I've recently encountered this is a fictional account based on deeply researched facts.

As far as I know, for some reason, no one uses anything like my (recently updated) version:

"The content you're about to consume is an allegedly more or less sorta/kinda accurate depiction that has been sliced, diced, tweaked, sexed-up, dumbed-down, and/or altered in any number of ways to make it more entertaining and hopefully more likely to make some money. It's based on facts that meet fiction, a representationally accurate fictional account based on the deeply researched facts of a true story.

{Impressive, I forgot that you got kicked out of law school for not cheating.}    

Spokespersons from the D.I.E. (diversity, inclusion, and equity) departments of several well-known, prestigious, and obscenely expensive colleges and universities have contacted me and pointed out that the word "geezerettes" is blatantly ageist, sexist and might make queer folx of various and sundry denominations feel unsafe.

{Queer! You can't say...}

Clearly, you're not as chill as I am. You can not only say it you can get a degree, in Queer studies. For example, at Denison University, located in my little corner of Flyoverland (Ohio). It costs $79,400 a year but that includes three hots and a cot.

{Do people still say chill?}

If you provide your own food and shelter it's only $57,500 a year. Word to the wise? Living in a tent in Ohio — aka southern Canada — can be somewhat problematic.

You may have heard, or been told something similar to:
"And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make" -Lennon/McCartney 

Permit me to/forgive me for pointing out that this just ain't true. In the end, you may discover that you have "made more love" than you received.    

{What are you talking about?}

Me mum (thinking about the Beetles sometimes causes me to write with an English accent). It's quite simple really. In the end, if she had been asked, and if she answered honestly, she would've had to admit she had given far more love, in all sorts of ways, than she received in return. 

I'll grant you that she was loved by lots of people, but to assume that this was necessarily of any practical value in any given situation, or to claim that "in the end" giving and receiving will balance out, is just wrong. 

Sweet — and giving without expecting an eventual balancing of the books is virtuous under the right circumstances, and with good guardrails in place — but wrong.  

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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I post links to my columns on both Facebook and Twitter so you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me canceled or publically flogged on either site.  


Friday, September 15, 2023

You May Not Be Interested In War, or Politics For That Matter, But...

Image by Andy from Pixabay

This is a weekly column of letters to my perspicacious progeny  the Stickies — to advise them now and haunt them when I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC: Sexy Seasoned Citizens   



Featuring Dana: Persistent auditory hallucination and charming literary device 

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." -Plato

Dear Stickies (and gentlereaders),  

{Trotsky, right?}


{So you weren't planning on using his famous quote to...}

What I planned on doing was expounding... 

{Pontificating you mean?}

Expounding about how easily you can substitute the word politics for the word war and then, um... expounding away. 

However, I discovered that apparently the famous quote "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you" should not be attributed to Mr. Trotsky., whose real name, for the record, was Leon Bronstein. 

Whereupon I decided it was important to begin by first pointing out that the famous quote in question is incorrectly attributed.     


Well, even as I write, artificial intelligences (intelligenci?) are roaming cyberspace and eating everything they can get their virtual hands on. I suspect that AI will not save me from drowning in the Dizzinformation Ocean in the short term but perhaps they will eventually drag the Stickies out of the water and deposit them safely on the beach. Eventually. Maybe.  

Assuming, of course, they (the AIs, not the Stickies) don't achieve self-consciousness at some point and decide to enslave and/or murder all the meat puppets instead. 

{I still don't...}

Think about it. 

The intelligenci need to feed on as much accurate information as possible in order to provide us with accurate answers (or make connections/draw conclusions we never thought of) once we're all verbally asking them questions instead of typing queries into our search engine of choice and being showered with a bajillion hits. 

This seems to be the direction we're headed. After all, Captain Kirk's command chair didn't come with a keyboard. He would just say, "Computer," ask his question, get his answer, and then save the universe. 

I'm just doing my part to help build a brave new world.

{You're my hero! Hey, do you think that "Computer" was listening in when Kirk was...}

Pericles is credited with saying "Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." I used to peer down my stubby little proboscis at people who proudly declaim they have no interest in politics. 

I apologize. Life, and politicians, have made me more sympathetic to that particular outlook. In my defense, I'm cursed with an innate interest in the subject made worse by Sister Mary McGillicuddy. 

The Sisters of Charity, at least back in my distant day, were concerned with political solutions to remedy social injustices for black people (among others); Sister Mary made it clear that her little-fledging Catholics had better be too. 

This was the old-fashioned, Martin Luther Kingish version of social justice, equality, not equity. That is to say, equality of opportunity not equality of outcomes which, in my semi-humble opinion, is common sense. 

Has divvying up the caramel apple pie ever equally satisfied all the kids salivating over a slice?  

Interestingly, when I submitted the term equality vs. equity to the Goog's Generative AI ("Generative AI is experimental. Info quality may vary.") it responded:

"Equity and equality are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Equality means giving everyone the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognizes (my emphasis) that people have different circumstances and allocates the resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome." 

{Sigh... This is a much different column than the one you thought you were writing, isn't it?} 

Well... not entirely, stay tuned.

Please note the word recognizes and how it's used four sentences above. Note that if it were changed to maintains, the paragraph would have a different meaning. It would reiterate that equality and equity are substantially different concepts and be more objective, not a sneaky slice of opinion. 

And by the way, just who is it that's in charge of allocating the resources and opportunities?

{That's just your opinion.}  

Maybe, maybe not, but a few sentences later it added:    

"Equity is primarily about equality of opportunity, not outcomes. Achieving equality of opportunity requires both equality and equity."


Exactly, This is a meaningless word salad, with dressing.  

{Perhaps the Goog's Generative AI is a Kamala Harris fan?}  

Perhaps Gigi (my pet name for Google's Generative AI) is being developed by a firm that's openly chock full of Wokies that are deliberately, or inadvertently, skewing GiGi's answers. 

{I'm sure it's inadvertent, after all, the Goog is well known for its impartial search engine results that have nothing to do with politics or generating advertising revenue. However, knowing that the Goog is looking over one shoulder and GiGi's looking over the other when I'm seeking information is kinda creepy.} 

Right, inadvertent... absabalutely.

{I've stayed tuned as instructed and I still have no idea what your word salad has to do with "Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you."}  

Oh yeah? Well, that's easy really. Are you gonna make at least a minimal effort to keep up with what's going on in the Swamp — the one North of Richmond, or the one in your neighborhood — or are you gonna take Gigis' (and her friend's) word for it?

Poppa loves you, 
Have an OK day

Scroll down to comment/share/access oldies. You can tip me, or Join Cranky's Coffee Club (and access my condensed History of the World) here  

I post links to my columns on both Facebook and Twitter so you can love me, hate me, or lobby to have me canceled or publically flogged on either site.