Saturday, April 28, 2012

Isn't political spin simply lying?

The Trip (Way Way) Back

It started simply enough. I got an email from a name I vaguely recognized, informing me that a distant cousin, ninety-two years old, wanted me to know that she had just lost her husband: "Your Godmother wants you to know..." Godmother.? The ninety-two year old cousin was my Godmother? I remembered her from my youth, but I never knew...or remembered...that she was my Godmother!

This started the trail of emails and phone calls to the man who sent me the note, my Godmother's son, and then another to my Godmother herself, ever lucid, who informed me--when I asked who was my Godfather--that her now long-diseased brother was my Godfather (also a fact unknown or forgotten by me); which led me to my Godfather's daughter, who I had met once but had forgotten that, too, who, I discovered, lived a few miles away; and then I had to call my own brother and sister back East, to whom I HAD to chronicle all this.

This sibling contact led to more conversations and other discoveries: my grandmother's name on that maternal wing of the family, also my great-grandmother's and great-grandfather's names, the fact that one thread of the family line, a butcher, came to America (Maine) from Germany to avoid being arrested for murdering a man in a fight, the names of many of my second- and-third cousins, what they do for a living. etc. etc. etc. (All this matched with thoughts and talk of Turkey, the other and Muslim wing of the family...only recently discovered in the year 2000 on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Istanbul with my brother).

My head is still spinning.

My wife came home from the grocery store when the phone conversations had just ended; and when I told her some of the stories, it reminded her of some of the stories of her family. So we sat down, had lunch, and discussed all of the above...and how the genes may or may not have affected us, our life, and the lives of our children.

Blood is wonderful. It is the deepest and most powerful river of our existence. It ties us to ourselves, and the universe. I want to swim in it forever. It is both a warm and cold-blooded stream. It rushes through us and past us. I want to know it all; names. dates, faces and voices, all the fire and ice that affects the stream. The dead are not so dead. Nor are the living. They are just half-dead; missing. They are out there, though, waiting for an email, an event, a phone call, a re-discovery.

Family, blood, personal history: the rest is a faint reflection, a ripple in the pool, the hue and cries of illusion...mere chimera when faced with the most essential and comforting fact of blood.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How can you know what's possible (or impossible) until you strive to attain it.

Verbosity and over-writing: a lot of words trying to express clearly one's immediate lack of understanding.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Male Darwinian Imperative

From the Garden of Eden onward, women's 'curse,' as it were--conception, pregnancy, birth--has in modern times been increasingly seen as a gender burden, and one unfairly derived (in contrast to the Biblical primal story--written and conceived by men--that implies it is all women's fault, their eternal penance for 'sinning' with the Devil/Snake). 

The new century is rightfully eager to alleviate women's negative consequences of their burden. We moderns properly worry about and seek to attain women's affordable access to contraception, the right to abortion, a woman's right to say 'no' at any time in sexual matters, her absolute right over her own body's usage. Thank God the mid-20th Century pill has entered women's life, and created freedom; 'free at last, free at last; good Lord almighty, free at last.'.

But what about men?

Do men have a curse as well, a primal gender burden worthy of examination...and a corollary search for new found freedom?

Some men would argue nature has unfairly sexually burdened them as well. Each man has to deal 24/7/365 with millions of sperm constantly crying every hour of every day to get out of their body. Random unwanted erections--and the constant urge/need to find an eventual blessed flaccid state through orgasm-- are seen by some men a curse. Proponents of this male-burden view say: imagine if men's minds weren't constantly on sex--if women's beauty were not a daily temptation and demand on men's concentration--imagine what men might have achieved in civilization?

Where is the male right to say: NO! We want to control our own bodies, too?

Their adversaries say: "Fine. Just say 'no;' male sex as nothing more than their self-centered pleasure seeking choice that men could stop pursuing if they wanted."

But I wish to assure them that from many men's experiences, the opposite is true; most of woman-chasing is not pleasure. It is an involuntary emotional obsession; an unconscious, overwhelmingly uncontrollable fact of life. It is not a choice, but a demand of that is amazingly time-consuming.

Chasing women is a constant unadulterated effort with rare certainty of payoff. All that money and effort to woo, seduce, charm, cajole and conquer women...for what? A possible (though, I repeat,  uncertain) fifteen second burst of stickiness? Orgasm benefits in the long run not the men themselves (other than the 15 seconds of release of unbearable tension), but, like its fellow gender 'curse', female menstruation, the sex drive is imposed on men by some greater Darwinian design: species ongoingness, to create human progeny (half of whom psychiatrist's assure us will try to kill us, the other half, the sweeter half, promise male fathers unconditional love us only to invariably leave us at the peak of their sweetness for another man).

If nature hadn't forced men to constantly seek out women, all male history may well have been altered: men might have remained contentedly in the jungle, hunting and pal-ing around with other guys. But because of nature's curse,  men are destined--propelled-- to leave the jungle, hunt the women, learn the lessons of domestication, marriage and child rearing--which causes men--at least in the earlier hundreds of thousands of years--to be burdened with most of civilization's 'grunt' work, having to protect our female mates who preferred (before the pill) staying with one of us singly rather than remaining fair game to dozens of other over-heated men every day, farming day and night (often hoeing through sometimes frozen tundra), hunting animals, preparing for and participating in war, creating nation states and governments not just for ourselves but primarily to protect our women and children. Increasing numbers of man are yearning for the jungle once again.

A plea from such men: now that women have contraception so that women can be more in control of their sexual natures (a life of intermittant sexual pleasure sans long term price), I hope scientists and social scientists will focus their attention on male need for a simiar corrective: the ability to regulate and lessen the timing and urgency of male sexual drive--without necessarily eradicating it fully. (NOTE to the opposite sex: women can help men in this regard: in learning to gather control over their own bodies/wardrobe by not exacerbating the male problem with their every-increasing upper cleavage and by reducing their ever-growing willingness to indulge in no-name and hook-up sex. Men find it hard...oun say 'no.')

As I look back on my life, I wish I had more of a choice in sexual matters, a controlling factor like the pill. I would have gladly traded in all of the multiple 15 seconds of orgiastic pleasure in my life, both self induced or otherwise (which probably added up to a grand total of two hours in a total lifetime!) for a returned that time back to the Darwinian Imperative. I cringe to even think of all the money, foolishness and time spent obeying the dictates of not my own brain, but of my groin.

I sometimes wish God had finished the snake-battle in the Garden of Eden in a different manner: not only defeated the Devil-as-Snake and banished Adam and Eve, but also just prior to our departure have cut off (maybe even never created!) the Snake-Between-My-Legs, my unfair and endless--still without a male pill--male Darwinian curse and burden.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Dialogue Between Chauvinists

We enter the scene mid-conversation:

SHE: If men are automatically covered by insurance for Viagra for erectile dysfunction, then women should be automatically covered for birth control.

HE: The prospect of pregnancy is not a dysfunction. In fact, if anything, it is a something functioning all too well. The dysfunction is earlier, in a woman's mind: sleeping with a guy when not on the pill or without making sure he is using a condom; that's what's dysfunctional.

SHE: Who are you kidding? Most men use Viagra to increase sexual performance, not for erectile dysfunction. Should they be covered for that?

HE: (strongly and righteously) No. Those men should be denied Viagra insurance coverage. When it becomes a performance enhancing drug, there should be no insurance coverage. It should fall in the same category as breast and penis enhancement and face lifts. Medical insurance is properly conceived to financially protect us when the body breaks down, through illness or disease. It should not be in effect merely because we are unhappy with our present state. (She tries to interrupt but cannot! He is on a roll; voice rising.) Sex and conception and pregnancy are not diseases. They are a natural--granted, sometimes surprising when they occur-- part of healthy living. Therefore, while one can only properly insure oneself against pregnancy as one can insure oneself against any undesired and surprising unwanted future occurrence or inconvenience (a dinner party being rained out; a baseball game cancelled...Lloyds of London will write a policy on anything). But to protect oneself against pregnancy by considering it a disease, and therefore coverable by normal medical coverage, is erroneous. (She refuses to speak...only rolls her eyes.) When we consider it as a disease, we fall into the trap of considering any life event of which we don't like as an insurable disease: "I don't like the size of our breasts and want less or more;" "I don't like the size of my penis. I want more (most men don't want less...although perhaps their partners might!)." If you don't like your body; change it...but pay for the costs yourself! (She goes into the next room. He follows,) To reiterate: sex and its consequences is not a disease or illness; unless perhaps it reaches psychological obsessive proportions. Then medical coverage might properly cover attending psychiatrists. (She goes into her bathroom. He follows.) But those extreme psychological dysfunctional cases should not be considered the norm...unless you are willing to consider all women psychologically imbalanced when it comes to the possibility of getting pregnant (and if so, they should stop dressing as an encouragement to men to have more sex with them...low cleavage, spike heels, high skirt lines, et. al.). As a final summation of my position: I support unlimited access to birth control but not governmental financial support. Food stamps are necessary for people to eat; and live. The government should help society with them. But nobody dies from a lack of sex.

SHE: (Seated on the john.) You are such a male chauvinist pig! (She wipes; he turns away.)

HE: What do you expect, talking to a female chauvinist sow. (long pause) Are we going out dancing tonight or not?!

She flushes the toilet; seriously considering how to do the same with him.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Augusta National Golf Course...and Men

Women are angry because the The Augusta National golf course is an all-male enclave; that no women are allowed as members (although they are allowed to play as invited guests.)

It's a private club, the law says, and the law allows the members to define how they want that's the way it is.

Women, relax. It is a male conspiracy, but perhaps not in the way you think.

To begin with, probably most of the voting members are married.

Married men love golf because it gets them out of the house and away from the kids and wife. That's why they have such early starts on the golf course: so they can even skip breakfast.

Getting out of the house lies at the very origins of golf. What other reason would motivate men to create such a silly game...a bunch of guys hitting rocks (I'll bet it started that way) into mole holes in open fields--and no no matter what the weather? It had to be only to get away from the wife and kids.

What about the voting members who are single? They probably voted to exclude women because exclusivity allows them--at least for part of their day (the hours spent on the golf course)--to avoid their other major obsession: chasing women. Believe me...if women were present at Augusta single men would chase them. And men's personalities would change. They would cease liking each other and become ferocious's in the reproductive genes. Their golf games would suffer.

So women, forgive the men of Augusta. The urban ghettos have their male exclusivity domains: the 'stoop', the basketball court and the street corner. The rich (at August golf course) need a sanctuary also, to still say "fuck," clear their nasal sinuses and throats, spit for distance, scratch their genitals and pick their underwear out of the crease in their behind without women around to feel embarrassed.

That's at the core of millennial male exclusivity, women, whether at Augusta or other places. It is not business tactics, or male chauvinism; it is men's basic awareness of their social-habit inferiority, and their desire to be free to be what they are but strive desperately to hide: common, for at least a few hours a week.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Slicing the Pie

Distributive equity co mingled with Productive fairness...that is the essence of the today's American economic dilemma. Are the wealthy unfairly keeping for themselves too great an amount of the profits of the American economic pie, and thereby denying the poor their deserved share; or are the poor demanding too great a portion of the economic pie--an amount unwarranted by their contributions to making it; and thereby denying the entrepreneurial class their just deserts?

Welcome to Republicans versus Democrats circa 2012.

Who contributes most--and in what proportion--to the American economy? Is the creative intelligence and managerial drive of the entrepreneurial wealthy and successful the main cog in the economic wheel; or does the American economic wheel have a million spokes: the wheel of American democracy's exceptional economic benefits only rolls because because three hundred and fifty million souls vote and maintain adherence to a legal and economic system without which American productivity and profit would not be possible.

America requires in its political charter the consent of the governed; does American capitalism demand the same (especially if we define 'consent' as the acquiescence of a happy "working class"--that is, non-managerial/non-entrepreneurial class)? 

The challenge facing us is how to make both sides happy; or at least content. To function smoothly and well, America must create and allow an economic system to flourish in which the wealthy don't feel fools, feeling short-changed in their received profits and salaries to their talents and drive, and the poor feeling that they are being denied a decent wage-life (and, when ill-fortune knocks them down, a hand up), an economic system where their relative poorness denies them good health, a reasonable family life a sense of personal dignity--including the chance to better their situation if they strive for it?

The formula for achieving such a "just" society balance should be a worthy goal for all the out-of-work hedge fund mathemeticians!!

Is there such a thing possible: a fairness formula delineating the proper line between the haves and the have-nots? Can such a line ever be defined and maintained within the shifting and definitional complexity of three hundred and fifty million people (with disparate abilities and needs), not to mention six billion worldwide?

The smooth and non-revolutionary future of the American and world system awaits a deep examination and sensible evaluation of proportional contribution and proportional benefits of all participants in America's and the world's economic life.

When it hasn't happened in prior advanced economic systems, revolution or dissolution has been the inevitable result.