Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Slog Through Years Pass

Another year drags to an end,
while many celebrities meet theirs;
Cherish those whom you call friend,
Together make merry and postpone cares.

Economic upheavals and presidential elections,
killings and riots and natural disasters aplenty.
This year has exceeded the usual standards
of bittersweet news shown in prior years.

Amid mall riots and superpower threats,
any and every dark imagining come true –
Take heart and remember:
You could be out plowing a field with a horse,
or huddling in some medieval shack starving.
You could be a slave suffering to a swift death,
or soldier slowly dying on some distant field.
You could wither under onslaught of black plague,
typhus, malaria or one of many other maladies.

When the Ipad chimes, the phone dings, the computer hums
quotidian refrains you can get down on your knees and thank
any god you please to be born in the here and now.
Even as we go forth to another miserable year
of terrorism and stupid political tricks...
Best of luck to us all.

- end

Monday, December 26, 2016

Good Riddance 2016

They all left us too soon:

Anton Yelchin,
Leonard Nimoy,
David Bowie,
George Michael,
George Kennedy,
Muhammad Ali,
Robert Vaughn,
Florence Henderson,
Gene Wilder,
And many others.

2016 seems a line of demarcation;
the old passes, the new awakens.

Loved and favored actors and actresses
who gave their all for us,
give way to
ubiquitous, pervasive Internet
Artificial Intelligence,
Robotics maturing,
New Cold War,
and a bevy of younger entertainers
moving into the mainstream.
Time to yield the stage to the new greats,
the ones whom Millenials will mourn
many years from now, or in some cases,
not so many years after all.

We can cherish the good memories
they have all given us over the years.

- end

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Low Point

With tensions rising between the US, and the Russian-Chinese alliance  (might as well admit it), the international scene is reaching a low point nit seen since the 1960's.    And all of these Tweets from the Silly-sphere aren't helping matters any.    The new Administration will have its hands full on damage control alone.  I just hope and pray that it is verbal damage control, and not actual FEMA post-nuclear activities.   And we're not even to the Inauguration yet.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

A Rogue Surprise

Kyber Crystals concentrate the Force,
but get misused by the Empire.
Rebel bands disagree on tactics,
but are forced to co-operate anyway.
The scenes hop from world to world,
fast as a rebel X-wing fleeing Darth Vader.

The action comes fast and fun in this
latest epic episode. One strategic item
becomes sought after by everyone who
is anyone, or wants to help someone else.

Before it is all over,
bodies and wreckage are strewn
on many planets around the Galaxy.
Audience members preconceived
notions of what this movie is like
also get shattered – but in a good way.
This Rogue of a film delivers big time!

Hope one and all enjoy it as much as I did.

- end

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Living in the Shadow of Empire

     Back in the 1970's, things seemed hopeful. But then I was a young man, just starting out in the world. Job offers were aplenty. And even though the US was licking its wounds from a drawn-out war in Vietnam that had cost so many lives, and so much treasure, things still seemed bright.

When I was hired on at an insurance company in 1977, they let me know of a probationary period. If I passed that, I was a permanent hire. They proceeded to lay out a banquet of benefits. Insurances, pensions, investment plans. A cornucopia of perks. The future indeed seemed bright to a 20-year-old new hire of a large life insurer.

The 1980's were scary from a cold war standpoint. But there were still many good jobs to be had in the USA.

Over time, from the late 80's up to the present, there have been a steady stream of factories moving to Mexico or overseas to China. Many people have traded good-paying jobs with benefits for outsourced, contract-style jobs with much less security.

A young person nowadays can start out in fast food, or working at a discount store. Or they can get a “contract job” in IT or customer service. These are anywhere from 3 to 18-month contracts. Some will make you pay your own SS withholding taxes, and buy your own benefits. They may seem lucrative, but in effect are a bargain for those offering them. They have no more responsibility for benefit administration of any kind. In our brave new world, young people coming out of ever-more-expensive colleges have ever less to look forward to.

In the meantime, the US has managed to expand our military presence to many more countries overseas. Former soviet-bloc countries, African countries, etc. Even as we spend more and more of our GDP on the military, opportunities at home seem to be fewer and fewer. Plenty of crew jobs at fast food joints – not so many good-paying union jobs. You would think that somehow with this huge footprint we have around the world, we could make things economically better for people at home!

Now a new Administration is taking over the White House. Business tycoons and former generals are being brought in. They say they want to “Make America Great again!” Time will tell if they do that, or they simply enrich the few tycoons at the top while continuing to impoverish the rest of us. Then, to salve their conscience they might announce some new aid package to Africa with our tax dollars. We have seen this movie before, and it doesn't end well. Right now the political rhetoric is flying thicker than a January blizzard in Iowa. It is difficult to sort truth from fiction. So time will tell whether we are heading to a new golden age, or “Muddling towards frugality.” Hang on, it could be a rough ride.
                                                      - End

Thursday, December 08, 2016

His Last Flight

    The news that John Glenn passed away at age 95 may seem sad. But he did live a long and illustrious life. Even before he launched into space at age 40, in 1962, he fought in two wars as an aviator. He was a public speaker, and later, a Senator. At age 77 he flew a Shuttle mission, serving as a human guinea pig for medical experiments. Not unlike what he had to do in his first Orbital flight back in 1962. He led a long and accomplished life – one most of us would be proud to say we achieved half as much as he did.

The depressing part to me is that he died without seeing the US return to “Manned” or human-crewed spaceflight with our own vehicles. We are apparently close. I've heard 2018 bandied about as a possible date for the Boeing and SpaceX craft to send astronauts aloft. (I suspect it will be more like 2020 – hope they prove me wrong) So they are re-inventing the “wheel” of human flight over again. Maybe they can do it cheaper and better, I don't know. I hope it is at least safe. We had an operational, re-usable spacecraft called the Shuttle, but ended it, due to (it seems) the very high expense. And of course, the element of danger, of failure, was still present too as we found out so tragically. But it seems unfortunate that Glenn had to pass away without seeing any viable Shuttle replacement on the horizon.

Here is hoping that the generation who watched him rocket into space will not have to all be dead before the US can figure out how to send an astronaut into space again, without buying a ride from someone else. Oh well.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Fabulous bubble surrounds him

That onetime club trendsetter and event-creator, Michael Alig, continues to fascinate me for some odd reason.  Perhaps it is the circumstances he had to combat to make it from his home in South Bend, Indiana, to get excellent grades and win a scholarship to Fordham.  He put himself in NYC, and once he did that, he proceeded to re-write the rules by which sucessful clubs operated - at least for a while.  Until he got addicted to several powerful drugs - it might be argued they took him over, and cuased him tu ultimately murder his dealer.
     These were all young men, around their mid-20's, immersing themselves in paryting and making a great living by doing it.  Sad, in a way.  Michael never got to experience the joys of buying his own home, or any of a host of conventional things one gets to enjoy as a law-abiding  "ordinary" citizen.    But he rejected convention, and turned it on its ear.    He created his own scene or 'bubble' and then it followed him around.
     Even now, out of prison for a few years, he is newsworthy.  Has adopted to the Internet world, starting a weekly Youtube show.  At his heart he is a very creative soul, who we will be hearing about for many years to come.  I just hope he can stay clean and off the drugs.  But if he re-immerses himself in the club scene, who knows - all bets are off.  Anyway, whatever else you say about him, he is a cultural icon - not quite an Andy Warhol, but perhaps one of his best students.   Famous for a lot more than 15 minutes.