Saturday, January 18, 2020

Hey, Google... Where's my money?

-Image by xresch from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"You can't go into Youngstown, Ohio, and tell everybody they're going to be retrained and go work for Google or Apple."  -Michael Avenatti


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

"Hey, Google...

B'donk (the technical name of the default googlebeep). 

 Where's my money?"

B'donk: "I couldn't find anything related to money."

Indeed.

The Goog, the Zuck (AKA Facebook), and no shortage of smaller firms have built companies that generate more cash flow than the so-called robber barons could've even have dreamed of.

[What about the other two FANGs, Amazon and Netflix? They're right up there with Google and Facebook.]

True, Dana, but Amazon and Netflix—no slouches when it comes to collecting, slicing, dicing, and monetizing our data—provide products that we can secure elsewhere relatively easily or choose to not access at all.

[There are other search engines besides the Googs, and there are other social media sites besides the Zucks.]   

Absobalutely (I confess I had the very first Sticky briefly convinced this was a better word choice than absolutely just to amuse me and Nana. I have since convinced myself), but they're both de facto monopolies.

I don't have a problem with a given monopoly that's really good at serving the public as long as the public is getting a fair shake.

If the FANGs and the numerous other hi-tech firms that thrive from, and actively promote, disrupting huge swaths of the economy don't want The Gummit in their faces as they claim (I know I certainly wouldn't) they need to become more transparent and give us more control over our data.

Most importantly, they should start paying for it.

Instead, they propose to provide the poor—and the disrupted Deplorables and Bitter Clingers—with a grain dole (see Rome, ancient) in the form of a universal basic income paid for with new taxes and run by The Gummit.

What could possibly go wrong?


While I had envisioned writing a column, based as much as possible, on a dialog with... Just a sec'.

"Hey, Google, what's your name?."

B'donk: "Did I forget to introduce myself? I'm your Google assistant." Hi!

[For the record, the exclamation point was perfectly and appropriately muted. B'donk (which I much prefer to Google assistant) managed to sound perky without sounding like she was smoking meth.]

But attempting to have a conversation with some software was even creepier and less productive than I expected it to be. Of course, I've spent more years of my life living in meatspace than cyberspace.

I didn't expect that it would be like talking to HAL 9000, or even Max Headroom (you know you're old when even your tech cultural references are becoming outdated).

And, I've been known to scream at, or hang up on (in a snit) the Walgreens robolady (talk about perky!) while trying to get my prostate pill script refilled.

But, bottom line? repeated inquiries failed to elicit a direct answer to my question although I tried various permutations. For example:

"Hey, Google, why don't you pay me for my data?" B'donk: "Check out these results."

Plenty of links from around the web, no actual answer. 

I kept picturing a hooge, gloomy, frigid room filled with thousands of racked computer servers and not a human in sight. The thousands of blinking lights were cool though.

I could hear muted, classical music playing, Wagner I think, but I didn't see any speakers. Anyway, I don't imagine computers enjoy listening to music since...

[Cough, cough. Perhaps you'd like to expand on your notion that people should get paid for their data?]

Good point, Dana. Lemme see, where was I... yadda, yadda, yadda, OH! Okay, here we go.


I recently read an article somewhere that claimed that the data generated by any given meat puppet is only worth pennies and given the free services the Goog and the Zuck give us we should shut up and be grateful.

As a wise woman of the world I knew in the early 70s, who made her living by slicing lunch meat and wrapping meat meat before it went in the meat case for public perusal and purchase used to say...

[What's the matter with you? Stop it!]

Bull Dickey!

Give us a cut of the ad revenue that you're awash in and charge us for the software and/or the service—whatever the market will bear. It's our data that you've gotten rich from and it's our data that you've used/are using to gleefully disrupt our lives.

I, and I suspect no shortage of other little people, would rather be a micro-capitalist keeping a careful eye on the stock market to see how we are all doing than waiting for The Gummit to send me my UBI check.

 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Cranky don't tweet.












Saturday, January 11, 2020

Winter is Coming (Now THAT'S clickbait!)

-Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"The problem with winter sports is that - follow me closely here - they generally take place in winter." -Dave Barry


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Winter is coming but the good news is it's been three weeks since each and every day included a minute or two of more daylight than the previous day.

The bad news is that with the Christmas and New Year's holidays behind us the only pending holiday that we have to distract us from another frigid winter here in Canada's deep South (Northern Ohio) is the Superbowl.

Easter won't be here till April the 12th and...

[Wait-wait-wait. The Super Bowl's not a holiday and winter started three weeks ago.]

Close enough for all intents and purposes, the Super Bowl I mean. If I'm elected king I'm going to issue an official proclamation that makes Super Bowl Monday an official holiday. America loves three day weekends. 

And yes, winter did officially begin three weeks ago and with the exception of a couple of full-dress rehearsals, it's been unusually mild.

However...

Anyone who's lived here long enough to understand why (and appreciate the sly joke) any discussion of the (mis)fortunes of the Cleveland Browns will invariably include one of the parties involved saying:

"Oh yeah? Wait till next year!

Or...

Has lived here long enough to regard the latest claim that economic revival,
locally speaking, is just around the corner with a jaundiced eye isn't putting the snow shovel back in the basement or reevaluating their choice of nat gas suppliers/contracts just yet.

Speaking of local humor, what are the four seasons of Northern Ohio?

- Almost winter
- Winter
- Still winter
- Construction

[Your kind of a glass half empty person, ain't ya Sparky?]

I suffer from seasonally affected disorder.

[You mean seasonal affective disorder?]

Nope. I mean I hate winter. Well, let me clarify that statement.

I hate winter when I'm living, even temporarily, anywhere that might result in my getting killed just trying to get around. Not just now and then, like in other areas of the US, but a solid three months or more of existential threat.

[Temporarily? May I remind you that you've been living in southern Canada, temporarily, for what, 34 years now?]

Hope springs eternal. Glass half full.

I'm not being pessimistic, nor am I depressed. I'm being realistic. I pride myself on my clear-eyed realism. Having been nearly killed as often as I have while wintering well north of the Mason-Dixon, hating/fearing winter is a rational response.

[Aw c'mon, killed? You sound like a wild-eyed exaggerator, not a clear-eyed logician. Can you cite any examples?]

How much time do you have?

[Just one, give me just one example of a time when winter almost killed you. I'll bet that...]

My personal favorite is the time I was driving to work one morning, slid off the road, and went through a gas station sideways between parallel rows of gas pumps.

[Well, I gotta admit that...]

No, wait, it's the time I found myself spinning in circles, rather like a carnival ride, across a frozen field and stopped just short of landing in an abandoned canal.

[Well, at least it was abandoned and you...]

Abandoned as in no longer used. It still contained a good four or five feet of water.

[Well, at least you didn't land in the water...]

This is true, and I only had to walk about two miles to get help and then pay someone to hook up a chain to my 1971 VW Super Beetle with the custom paint job and winch me across the frozen field so I could go home.

[What's the custom paint job got to do...]

Nothing, I just really liked that car.

[I don't suppose that...]

No, she was brutally murdered by a hooge Pontiac station wagon in 1977.

[She?]

Yes, Brunhilda.

[I'm sorry for your loss.

Thanks. It was in the wintertime.


Winter is coming to my rusty little corner of Flyoverland and just because we've been lucky so far means nothing:

Picture an enormous Monarch butterfly (street name Mothra) wintering in Malibu with his life partner, Maynard. He's standing on the deck of his beachfront condo and flapping his wings, trying to shake off a mild hangover.

He and Maynard hosted a party the night before and the "electric" nectar was flowing freely.

While most people are aware of the fact that a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan can affect the weather on the other side of the globe, most people are unaware of what causes a polar vortex to attack the Northern US.

You guessed it, butterflies wintering on the California coast.

Brrr! Is it cold in here or is it just me?

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet. 














 


Saturday, January 4, 2020

Is God Dead? (Does it matter? Oh, yeah...)



-Image by skeeze from Pixabay-


This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"What can you say about a society that says that God is dead and Elvis is alive?" -Irv Kupcinet


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Is God dead? And given that we live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, does it matter? We're creating a heaven on Earth, right? Not only here in the USA, but in all sorts of other countries. That's why there's so many happy and well adjusted H. Sapiens running around.

So all we have to do is keep on keeping on till everyone's happy and well adjusted, right?

[It's finally happened. I knew it would. You've traveled all the way around the bend and won't be coming back. Life's just a perpetually pleasant acid flashback for ya now, huh? Hope you're having a good trip.]

Judge Dana, if it pleases the court I'd like to introduce the following facts into evidence, your honor. In 2018 the American weight-loss industry was worth $72,000,000,000. That's 72 billion, with a b.

The global weight loss industry is worth $212,000,000,000 and is projected to be worth $348,000,000,000 by 2025.

[What on Earth are you...]

Well, your honor, I've chosen to quote the stats above as being representative of the current state of things, materially speaking. I would spare the Stickies, and my gentlereaders, a barrage of similar statistics to make my easily verifiable point.

Life on Earth has never been this good and never have so many come so far so fast.

Matt Ridley has a new article out—We’ve just had the best decade in human history. Seriouslythat clearly and cleanly makes my case. The subtitleLittle of this made the news, because good news is no news—helps explain why no shortage of H. sapiens think that the species is circling the bowl and unless we come to our senses and embrace _______ism, we're doomed.

The blank above can be, and is, filled by any number of isms. It would seem that an awful lot of people who are at each other's throats have more in common than they realize.

They worship at the altar of the god Ism.

The developed nations of the planet are suffering from an ever-growing obesity epidemic and are up to their expanding hips in toys and entertainment.

The developing nations are developing at an accelerating rate not thought possible not long ago.

And yet... for many, something is missing.


Now, at this point in the proceedings, my dear Stickies and gentlereaders, I'll betcha a bottle-a-soda pop that many of you are expecting me to state that what's missing is God, with a capital G.

Nope.

While I'm a firm believer that anyone who refuses to acknowledge that there's a transcendent something or other behind it all—or in my case, is all there actually is—is mistaken, that's not where I'm going.

What I wish to point out is that there's a prosperity problem.

Those of our fellow H. sapiens who follow most of the more traditional spiritual paths—the ones that state that if you follow all the rules as best you can you'll eventually obtain paradise, enlightenment, nirvana, etceterana—don't have this problem.

That's that. You're done. Paradise. Forever and ever, amen.

Is God dead? No, he, or something, is waiting with open arms to welcome you. If this is true, or if you think this is true, you believe that no matter what happens while you're slogging away here in the trenches it will ultimately be worth it.


But if you think God is dead, by which I mean you reject any notion of a higher power of some sort, however broadly or subtly defined, what's left?

The aforementioned -isms. There are all sorts of -isms. Nihilism, anarchism, communism, Nazis...

[Hey-hey-hey! Idealism! Humanism! Socialism! or even communism (if finally implemented properly, of course). And what about socialism light, democratic socialism. 

Democratic socialism didn't kill 100,000,000 people in the preceding century. Of course, the Chinese, Cuban, and Venezuelan versions of socialism are still a bit problematic but...]

Take a breath, Dana.

All I wish to point out is that regardless of what you think the future holds, the fact remains that right this second, materially speaking, things are better than they have ever been and are continuing to get better.

If you're a glass half full, go along to get along, my life's decent enough type you make the best of things but never quite shake off the feeling something's missing.

If you're of the life sucks then you die school, you're still miserable, and this hasn't helped your outlook.

If you're of the life sucks then you die school, but, are actively pursuing, promoting, and promulgating _______ism because it will create a secular paradise right here, right now...

Our current situation would seem to indicate that you will still be miserable if/when your dreams come true.

And then there's the matter of that empty feeling you always get after reaching a major goal—Now What syndrome.

We have a prosperity problem (that sound you hear is God/the gods laughing).

[We?]

Yeah, Dana, we. The world is lousy with people prepared to do anything from canceling to killing other people to save them from themselves so we can all be as miserable as they are.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.











   











Saturday, December 28, 2019

YouTube Monetizes YouTube

-Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay-

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"YouTube is the hippest network, and they abuse copyright right and left." 
                                                                                           -Prince


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

From what I can tell from my exhaustive research—my normal 3 to 5 minutes of in-depth web surfing via YouTube's owner, the Goog—YouTube starting monetizing YouTube sometime back in 2018.

I don't know if they saved, um, demographically and economically challenged areas of the USA like mine till now or they just got tired of me rejecting their offer to sign me up for YouTube premium.

Regardless, in the good old days, having to watch a commercial for a few seconds before I could choose to opt-out seemed more than fair, in fact, downright cutting edge cool, almost woke...

X39!@GRa13$, Chief Algorithmite, YouTube Division, speaks:

"We hate to risk offending your delicate sensibilities, and once upon a time even we used to claim that 'information wants to be free' with a straight face, but would you mind taking a few seconds to determine if this advert is something you might be interested in?

We realize you're in a hurry to watch some cute kitty videos as well as all the copyrighted content posted by people claiming fair use so that they (and of course us, your benevolent supplier of free software and services) can make money from other people's work." 

Now, having lived long enough to confirm that there really is no such thing as a free lunch, I didn't even mind when they started running a single, 15-second mandatory commercial at the start of some videos.

A small price to pay for a free product.


YouTube Monetizes YouTube
Recently, adverts, often slick and professionally produced, have begun popping up at random when I'm watching something on YouTube.

I don't have a problem with advertising per se, the no free lunch thing again. While I confess to having downloaded, and use, an app from DuckDuckGo that lets me selectively block ads, I use it, well, selectively.

Being a current events junkie, freak actually, I access a bunch of carefully chosen sites on a daily basis to get my fix. On all but one, The Wall Street Journal (I pay a hefty subscription fee) I submit myself to advertising. I don't think that I'm entitled to view someone's hard work for free.

I have it set to block ads for all the random sites that I stumble on. This is because the app has made me aware that beyond the minor annoyance of ads there are potentially dozens of Botmonsters, Data Dragons, and Algorithmites (trackers) anxious to report every click and keystroke back to headquarters.

Any site that has become one of my regulars will find my blocker turned off. I know, I know, it's screaming into the wind. The sites that I leave it turned off for are gleefully hoovering up as much data as they can and selling it to the highest bidder.

But denying a bit of ad revenue to the Goog provides the illusion of privacy and control and there's a lesson to be gleaned here about getting what you're willing to pay for—real journalism created by real journalists—as opposed to what you get when you're not willing to pay anything at all.


BIG BUT
The reason I'm on about YouTube monetizing YouTube is because of the clumsy and heavy-handed way they've gone about it (unusual for the Goog I know, but still...).

Are they tone deaf? Are they oblivious? Are they trying to sell subscriptions?

A highly placed aid to X39!@GRa13$, who spoke to me on the condition that it remains anonymous, claims that at best YouTube breaks even and that the Goog would prefer it to be another big fat profit generator.

Of course, you could make an argument that given how much money the Goog makes selling our data without cutting us in that a service that breaks even is shrewd public relations.

But this column isn't about that so I won't bring it up.

[Clumsy and heavy-handed, remember? Nudge, nudge...]

Right! Thanks, Dana. The Goog is using what I call the 8-track system to randomly place ads within a given video. The logic seems to be, let's not just place more ads let's do it the most annoying way possible.

[What's the 8-track...]

Follow the link. Long story short, picture a hooge plastic box of pre-recorded music that every so often, usually in the middle of a song, pauses, makes a loud CLICK-CLICK noise and then resumes playing.

Cutting edge tech for playing music in your ride... in the late 1960s.

Fast forward (which you usually couldn't do with an 8-track player) to the late 2010s and now we have the Goog inserting commercials, at random, into a given video.

"So tell us, professor Einstein, what thought was the seed that led eventually to the theory of General Relativity, and what... "

"Hey there, I'm just driving to my new house in Palm Springs in my new Ferrari. How would you like to be as rich as me without having to leave your house?" All ya gotta do... "

The 8-track system. Hoo-boy.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet.




 













Saturday, December 21, 2019

My Sister of Charity

This nun was fun

Sr. Mary Clifford Soisson, SC

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.


[Photo by Angela]

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"For a Catholic kid in parochial school, the only way to survive the beatings-by classmates, not the nuns-was to be the funny guy." -George A. Romero 


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Six of my first eight teachers were members of a Roman Catholic religious community, that has roots extending back to 1809, the Sisters of Charity.

Sister Mary McGillicuddy changed my life, Miss Crabtree, not so much.

[Um, don't you mean Ms. Crabtree?]

No, Dana, I do not. I'm so old that Ms. magazine wasn't published till the year after I graduated high school and which, according to Wikipedia, is when that particular honorific caught on.

Now that name tags read, "Hello, my name is _______ and my personal pronouns are _______  " it sounds/seems almost quaint.

Sister Mary and Miss Crabtree are composite creations. S'ter Mary McGillicuddy represents the six nuns mentioned above. Miss Crabtree stands in for the two lay teachers I had in Catholic grade school.

To a lesser extent, she represents the handful of female teachers I had in public high school; the word handful is an indicator of my encroaching decrepitude.

The majority of my teachers in public high school were male, the principal and vice-principal of the two high schools I attended were both also members of the toxic sex, particularly the vice-principals (readers of a certain age nod knowingly).

However, this column is about a real Sister Mary, Sister Mary Clifford who was my teacher in seventh grade and whom I recently discovered died in 2010 at the age of 89.

She was my first and only "cool" nun. She was the first and only nun I liked. She was one of only two nuns I wasn't afraid of.

She taught me, at the age of 12—without meaning to—that nuns were just H. sapiens in peculiar clothes, not members of a separate, parallel species.

Sisters of Charity, New York -1965


Eileen Soisson was born on the 17th of July, 1920 in the Borough of Bellevue which borders and is butt up against, by gum by golly (sorry...) Pittsburgh (with an h).

Like me, she attended Catholic grade school (hers still exists) and public high school. She received a scholarship to Seton Hill (not Hall) College which was founded by the Sisters of Charity. She took her vows in January of 1942.

She was not only my seventh-grade teacher she also was the principal of the school, St. John the Evangelist, which was located on the Sou'Side-a-Pittsburgh, across the street from the 12th street playground.

Somehow, I was one of her pets. To this day I don't know why.


Being a pet of the principle meant that at least once a week I got out of class to accompany her when she borrowed one of the parish priest's cars to take care of some sort of business, usually grocery shopping for the convent that was right next to the school.

It was never just me—there was always at least one of the other boys, sometimes two depending on our mission—but it almost always included me. In retrospect, I can guess why it was always more than one boy but at the time neither I nor any of my classmates (that I'm aware of) noticed or cared.

Different era...

But.  Why.  Me?

There was this girl, Ellen somebody? who from year to year was always a teacher's pet, but that made sense. She had a beautiful voice and the nuns were always finding excuses to get her to sing.

I didn't give it much thought at the time, just enjoyed it, rolled with it, took it for granted. Somehow, even my classmates didn't razz me about it and normally this was a group that called each out for everything


I still have no idea what she saw in me, but I do know why I liked her so much. She was genuinely nice. She kept at least one foot in the real world at all times. She wore her vocation like a corsage, not a crown of thorns.

She clearly enjoyed driving and when I was out and about with her she acted like a doting aunt, not my teacher. She'd answer our questions about parish politics, other nuns, her life, etc., questions we'd never think of asking in class (it just wasn't done) as honestly as she could.

But always diplomatically, always taking the high road, never stooping to gossiping or backstabbing. Keeping the faith, as it were.

It was probably why I caught no crap from my peers—everyone liked her. She ran a tight ship in class but possessed not a trace of Crazy Nun Syndrome.

[Note: If you've ever been exposed to CNS, which was a common malady at the time, no explanation is required. If you haven't, no explanation I can provide will come close to describing it properly.] 
 

Prior to Sister Mary Clifford, I had six teachers.

Four Sisters of Charity afflicted with CNS; one lay teacher that was about 150 years old; another lay teacher, for second grade, that taught us how to curse (rather genteelly by today's standards) by conscientiously explaining which words we were not permitted to use under any circumstances.

Eighth grade: different school, unremarkable nun. But I wasn't afraid of her thanks to Sister Mary Cliffords unintentional life lessons.

In her defense, she did an excellent job preparing us for Catholic high school knowing that intellectually speaking, things were about to get a lot more intense. And life lessons or not the nun that ran that school scared the hell out me, as she would any right-thinking person.

Fortunately/Unfortunately (it's very complicated) my parents couldn't afford to send me, so I was off to a public high school.

But thanks to Sister Mary Clifford, as my faith slipped away, I knew that nuns were just people, sometimes very special people. Look at her eyes.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. 

Cranky don't tweet. 







Saturday, December 14, 2019

Christmas in Flyover Country


This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.

                                            [Image by Jane Lund from Pixabay]
                  
Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice." -Dave Berry


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

A previous letter, Mr. Cranky's Neighborhood, consisted of observations about the tiny "city" in Flyoverland I've lived in for the last 12.5 years but never paid much attention to till I began taking walks every day to avoid having to engage in other forms of exercise.

Or, God forbid, joining a gym (shudder).

Well, Christmas has come to Flyover Country and not only am I still walking around my hood twice a day I've also gradually lengthened my perambulations to cover a full mile both in the morning and at sunset.

But fear not.

If you're reading these missives after I've been deleted, there are no pictures of a preening, spandex-clad old man with one arm around his sugar baby while chugging on a bottle of Gatorade for Geezers (Now Available with fast-acting Viagra!) waiting to ambush you.

Anyways, all of the handful of folks on my route that had put up the Halloween lights I mentioned in my Halloween, 2019 letter have put up Christmas lights and in addition, the residents of a handful of other houses have put up Christmas lights as well.

The good news is that I've yet to spot a single instance of the hideous, all-white faux icicle lights that seemed to be taking over the world till recently. My neighbors appear to have better taste than I would've predicted.

But here's an enormous illuminated unicorn that has me considering knocking on a stranger's front door and asking, Why?

The bad news is that the overall volume of Christmas lights here and in the surrounding hamlets remains pathetic compared to what it was when I first arrived in Northeast Ohio 34 years ago and took up temporary residence.

The worst news is that compared to when I was a kid and living in Pittsburgh (with an h) at the height of the baby boom... Well, if the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come had transported me here in the mid-sixties I would've assumed electricity had become a luxury for the middle and working classes.

I don't travel any more than absolutely necessary these days, and the Goog was less than helpful, so I don't know if this is just a local phenomenon or not. However, thanks to the Goog I did discover that paying a professional to do your Christmas decorating is an actual thing.

I wonder if Gibbon, in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (only one of the many books I'm vaguely familiar with, feel free to mention and have absolutely no intention of actually reading) had anything to say about people in ancient Rome paying professionals to decorate for Saturnalia.

For the record, I wish we celebrated Christmas the way the Romans celebrated Saturnalia: shut everything down and party for a week.

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Christmas, 1963: Ed and Reda Mehlmauer, and their seven kids, residents of a Pittsburgh neighborhood, "The Bluff," experienced their 15 minutes of (local) fame when word got out that both Ed and his firstborn (and first employed), Arletta, had both brought home a Christmas tree.

The Mehlmauers, a family of modest means, but not quite as bad off the Cratchits, did suffer from an embarrassment of riches in one respect: Christmas decorations.

Ed worked a second job during the holiday season, manning a gift wrapping station in the evening at one of the hooge, multi-floor downtown department stores with hooge, lavishly decorated street-level windows that are still open in the memories and imaginations of all Pittsburghers of a certain age.

After the holiday the store threw away all the decorations, preferring to buy new ones the following year, and we had boxes full of scavenged lights and decorations.

Or at least that's what I was told... keep your suspicions (or reality checks, older siblings) to yourself please. Don't mess with my Christmas memories.

Long story short, the Mehlmauers became the first family on the Bluff to have two fully decorated Christmas trees. No one in our working-class neighborhood had ever heard of such a thing. Kids too cool to be my friends were knocking on the door and asking to be allowed to come in to verify an unlikely rumor that they had heard.


A handful of other events of lesser importance also occurred in 1963.

Mona Lisa visited America for the first time. Zip Codes and the smiley face symbol were invented and the Beatles released their first album.

Reality being what it is, Martin Luthor King Jr. wrote the Letter From Birmingham City Jail in the margins of a newspaper in a jail cell and JFK was murdered.

Most importantly, Arletta Mehlmauer, now Arletta B. for better than 50 years, firstborn and first employed daughter of Ed and Reda Mehlmauer bought me the coolest toy of my childhood for Christmas.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

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Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. 

Cranky don't tweet.




 

 



 


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Reparations

Reparations to all, and to all a good life!


This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.

                              [Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay              

Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and/or grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering 

                                                  Glossary  

                                                    About

Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader

"And if you wrong us shall we not revenge?" -William Shakespeare


Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies (& Gentlereaders),

Some people, and at least one candidate for president, support the payment of reparations to Native Americans for the depredations that they suffered at the hands of those that "discovered" America and then gradually turned it into the USA by displacing and/or killing many of those who didn't realize they needed to be discovered.

Other people, and other people currently running for president, support paying reparations to African-Americans as compensation for the fact that their ancestors were victims of the obscenity that was slavery.

While I can see their point I don't support their position.

Trying to determine a set of rules and procedures that would satisfy everyone while the purple press did what it does — choose sides and gin up outrage to capture clicks, eyeballs, and revenue — would create yet another hot mess that would never be resolved.

Compromise and solutions, for this and no shortage of other issues and problems, are likely to remain unresolved till those of you that are Millies and Zoomers take over and show the world how it's done.

Careful though, that's what we Boomers told our predecessors we were going to do and yet here we are. If I didn't know better — thanks to the wisdom of the woke — I would think this was the nature of the beast.

But of course, that sort of thing has been debunked. The beast has no nature, everything is a mere social construct and a return to the garden is just a matter of sufficient informed tweaking and experimentation.

There's no reason why we can't start tweaking and experimenting right now, which brings me to personal reparations. 


One of modern America's undeniable strengths, and preoccupations, is taking each other to court in the pursuit of justice.

Even those of us that live in Flyoverland, well, most of us, will talk to a lawyer or two before deciding which of our many, many guns will be needed to resolve a vexing problem.

What if the moron with the enormous, crazy-eyed, four-legged, bark, bark, barking manure spreader desperately in need of a dog whisperer next door won't listen to reason?

Just place a call to Dewey, Suem, and Howe (Free Consultations!). 

What if we could get some judge in one of the more lawsuit friendly states (not to mention any names...) to allow a lawsuit seeking personal reparations to go forward under tort law?

A jury of someone's peers, like the ones that keep finding that the weed killer Roundup causes cancer in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary, could award punitive damages.

Voila! personal reparations are a thing.

According to the website of the law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen (Protecting the injured since 1910), "Punitive damages are damages intended to punish the tortfeasor and also send a message to the community that the tortfeasor’s conduct will not be tolerated in the community."

Punish the tortfeasors and send a message to the community! Yeah, baby!

[Alle, Allen, Allen & Allen? Tortfeasor? You're just going for the cheap joke!]

What's your point, Dana?


Now, I realize that the more allegedly "rational" (yet another social construct created by the white, heterosexual, patriarchal suppressors (WHPS) among you will object on the grounds that tort law doesn't apply, or that at the very least new case law will need to be developed, legislation may be needed, and of course the Supremes will have, inevitably, to weigh in.

So what? Law schools, many of which are woke, keep churning out newly minted lawyers in debt up to the roots of their hair.

This would be a chance for them to go to work for nonprofit foundations set up to create a whole new branch of law and make a name for themselves while also making a living and working for a nonprofit employer, the dream of many an awakened Millie and Zoomer.

After all, even The Gummit can only absorb so many new lawyers.

One of the primary objections to reparations for oppressed groups is how do you determine who legitimately is a member of a given group? This idea solves that problem. An entire industry will evolve to aid individuals in proving that they're entitled to some dough. Yet more new jobs.

And as they used to say in commercials: put that checkbook away, there's more!

As Americans continue to come to their senses and reject the notion of rugged individualism and embrace victimhood (for everyone but the WHPS of course) personal reparations will make it possible for everyone to get even while simultaneously redistributing America's wealth.

For example, oppressed women of all genders and multiple intersectional victimizations could sue the men in their lives on an individual, case by case basis. Employees could go after employers. Fine arts and psychology majors could sue the schools that granted them their useless, wildly overpriced diplomas.

On and on it will go, a bloodless American version of the ever-expanding beheadings of the Frech Revolution. History will label this era the Great Levelling.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Please scroll down to react, comment, or share. If my work pleases you I wouldn't be offended if you offered to buy me a coffee.  

                                                   *     *     *

Your friendly neighborhood crank is not crazy about social media (I am a crank after all) but if you must, you can like me/follow me on Facebook. I post an announcement when I have a new column available as well as news articles/opinion pieces that reflect where I'm coming from or that I wish to call attention to. 

Cranky don't tweet.