To my friend, the Nihilist

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Perhaps it is true, that humans are a pestilence and this planet is simply the most recent 'home' that we have infested having absconded from previous planets that humans polluted and destroyed with wanton and profligate consumption. Alternatively, we can close our eyes, find someone with whom the vibrations of Life and Love resonate, have children and cultivate our progeny to bend the world differently.

W

This is an excerpt of an erstwhile debate with a friend, a devout nihilist, who eschews commitments given the impending doom of mankind.


Dragojevic and Sinatra

If it should so happen that the Reader finds himself/herself in the Mediterranean in June, Wayne Weddington will perform a concert devoted to Love, expressed in principal by the love songs of the beloved Dalmatian singer Oliver Dragojevic and the inimitable Frank Sinatra, two of the masters.  Dubrovnik, Croatia, June 16 2018.

Mr Weddington will perform in both English and Croatian (Dalmatian, to be exact!).  Le Petit Festival du Théâtre is an an annual celebration of The Arts and the Global Community,  bringing  together artists and the fans of art-and-science from around the world.  This year, 2018, the festival is a tribute to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Japan and Croatia.   (http://bit.ly/2JaW6Qf)

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Mr Wayne Weddington is a private Investor, Writer, Philanthropist, husband and, well, occasional crooner. 

Mr Weddington first became enamored with Croatia and its many regional cultures in 2004 with his first visit to Dubrovnik to visit the WarPhoto Museum, founded by an erstwhile New York BFF Frederic Hanrez. Mr Weddington is devoted to music as a conduit of communication, in all of its genre. And in that spirit, and the inspirations of Le Petit Festival, offers his first public performances in the Croatian language as an expression of love and global community.

Mr Weddington is in development of a collaborative ecosphere, the IamYou Project, organized to foster mutual joy and understanding through conversation and respectful discourse, an increasingly lost medium corrupted by the anonymity of technology and social media.

The central purpose promotes listening, artistic expression and basal understanding between strangers across the globe. It has a Name. And it is Love. Mr Weddington is married to his Croatian Muse, Gabrijela, and currently resides in New York.

Teens, Vape, Mom and Dad

Tobacco consumption is in secular annual decline of 1-3% for all consumers.  The observed declines in teenagers is 3-4x that observed in adults.  If vaping were a 'gateway' to combustion tobacco consumption for teenagers, the data would present teenage increases in cigarette consumption.  But the opposite is true. The decreases in cigarette consumption in teenagers have been dramatic.

The reality:  Vaping Saves Lives. 

Cigarette use is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control.   Take a look here at the testimonials on the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA's) website of real people whose lives have been improved.   

The best-of-breed vape companies welcome fair FDA regulation.  Ultimately it will be great for business and establish a sound scientific basis for further industry development.  Any company that would knowingly harm the consuming public should rightly be disciplined.  Just like any other consumer-products company.  The point is that the FDA's issuance of flavor regulations remains an indeterminate time away, but those regulations will be beneficial to the industry inasmuch as the "cheaters" and "weak-hands" would be driven either out of business or into the hands of stronger principled acquirors.

Vaping is not legal for teenagers (18 is the legal age of consumption), and neither is smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, taking opioids, smoking marijuana, consuming large quantities of NyQuil or Robitussin (otherwise known as sizzurp), eating Tide pods, snorting condoms and so on.  Nevertheless, a teenager can purchase an assault rifle.  As parents and civic leaders, we can not absolutely prevent people from breaking the law.  But of all of these vices, vaping is by far the safest.

Image appears in The New York Times, Dec 8, 2017, Author Paula Span

California, for example, are now attacking coffee consumption, demanding that coffee growers label that "Coffee Causes Cancer", that coffee is a carcinogen.  Caffeine is mildy habit-forming (about the same as nicotine). I wonder how many would support the prohibition of coffee?  I know the Taliban would favor it.  But as a carcinogen, coffee is significantly more 'harmful' than e-juice.

Should we shut down Starbucks?  Or wring our hands that coffee could cause cancer? 

I do understand that parents are alarmed by vape, but it comes from the negative anchoring from a previous generation, scarred by the 'revelation' in the 1960s that cigarettes are, indeed, fatally harmful.  Perhaps these baby-boomers who oppose vape even lost someone to tobacco-related cancer as I have (my father).  The vape flavors are a critical component to wean would-be tobacco smokers from smoking. Were it not for the flavors, tobacco smoking would remain high and lethal; vape participation would be lower; and tobacco-smoking recidivism would be higher.

Vaping is a public good because it saves lives.

I hasten to point out that the whistle-blower research institution that, in the 1960s, identified tobacco smoking as harmful and carcinogenic -- the Royal College of Physicians -- is the very same research institution that asserts today, through its rigorous research, that "the substitution of e-cigarettes[...] has the potential to prevent almost all the harm from smoking in society.  Promoting e-cigarettes[…] as widely as possible, as a substitute for smoking, is therefore likely to generate significant health gains." 

Vaping Saves Lives.  

Sir Veillance

ICE Will Surveil License Plates Across the United States  

Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") surveillance has caused apoplexy among right-to-privacy advocates.   Any unchecked surveillance by this Government should rightly cause alarm.  The United States citizens' right to privacy is sacrosanct having been a core founding principle of the Republic. 

This author concurs that there is cause for concern. 

Nonetheless, he is less concerned compared to the intrusions of private enterprise.  The Government already tracks license plates.  It is 'de rigeur' when paying tolls on federally or state-funded highways.  It is the cost of convenience.  What is far more troublesome is the enormous power that we abrogate to private enterprise by virtue of our mobile devices and social media.  We volunteer our 'privates' to these tracking devices without a second thought.  They thus become eyes and ears on everything we do and we provide it willingly, but often unwittingly.

So the Government is not the egregious offender.  It is private enterprise.  Technology surreptitiously wrests privacy from our control, by default.  We invite Alexa, Siri  and "OK Google" into our homes, providing them access to every word we say.  They turn these conversations into commercializable moments, nudging us with curated advertisements to purchase goods and services from their clients.  It is incredible that Americans, above all, offer  the most intimate of  private data:  facial recognition on Apple products; fingerprint recognition to unlock our phones or verify on-mobile transactions;  allow Google to read every one of our emails.  These data collectively feed the repository of Big Data, and ultimately Artificial Intelligence (AI) so that AI 'learns' human behavior by voluminous, interactive real-time input of how we live.  With your face, facial expressions, turns of phrase, reactivity to feeds' and information.  Once learned and enabled, Artificial Intelligence will render an ominous new world order.

It Knows When I Got Out of the Car!:  Tucker Carlson's Report on Google Tracking

The author is no fan of a big and unaccountable government, but governmental intrusions are less worrisome than those of private enterprise primarily because government's purpose is to enforce the law, and the Government is generally held to account.  Yes, there are occasional abuses, but eventually the Government would be held accountable.  If one abides the law, the probability is that one would be less likely to be surveilled by the Government.  Do not break the law and Government's scope of 'snoop' is reduced if not eliminated.    

Private enterprise is another matter.  The fact, for example, that the biggest and best technology companies openly 'hack our brains' and those of our children to drive revenue and addiction is tantamount to a crime against humanity.  The crafty ways in which they can wield surveilled information is dangerous to our perceptions of reality and of each other.  Technology, in this vein, is indeed a disrupter:  of civilization as we know it.  It is what has given rise to #fakenews and "augmented reality," neither of which is particularly fecund to the human condition.  A handful of powerful technology entrepreneurs influences our thoughts, infiltrates our homes and separates us from what it means to be preternaturally human.  Private enterprise' assault on our core rights to privacy is a siren call.  

The UK Will Install Free WiFi Kiosks for the Public

What's App is, for example, far more invasive than the government.  The app enjoys a reputation to offer users encrypted conversations while, all the while, each message is ultimately de-encrypted once it lands on the phone.  Which makes it vulnerable to reading by every other app on your phone, including Facebook, its enterprise software and other electronic snoopers.  I sent a What's App message to a friend to ascertain whether he was staying at the Arlo Hotel, a little known Manhattan hotel.  Hours later, on my laptop, the commercial banners to my Chrome browser were advertising Arlo Hotels.  Co Inky Dink?  I think not.

So much for those private champions of encryption and the supposed safe harbor in commercial apps.  Commercial exploiters are already doing routinely for that which the government intelligence agencies are being protested.  Consumers have brought a paper napkin to a knife fight to control their information. 

(c) 2013 Summers, Tribune Content Agency

(c) 2013 Summers, Tribune Content Agency

 

There are upsides, however.  In New York alone, there are some thirty-five terrorist attacks that have been foiled as a result of surveillance.  Clearly an occasional event is missed, such as when a deranged terrorist in 2017 ran over people on the West Side with his car, but we would be significantly worse-off if the other 35 had come to success.  

Certainly one would also concede that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) authorities would have more information than less if they were able to access target mobile phones on 'demand.'  And certainly one would agree that more information is always better than less information when navigating a decision tree.  Thus the ability for a would-be criminal to evade detection is a societal cost.  And surveilling them possibly saves lives.  We must therefore balance the preternatural American right to privacy, against the responsibility to keep our country and communities safe, particularly when we already give away the same information to private enterprise for free.

Russia Has Turned Kaspersky Software into a Tool for Spying

Many are conflicted on this issue, including this author.   The fact that encryption did not stop some very bad actors from doing harm, strongly suggests that the Government needs stronger tools in its arsenal that are superior to those of the bad guys.  However it is not lost that, not infrequently, the Government has shown that it is not a reliable steward of this capability.  The Government has demonstrated the Government can also be a bad actor.  The latter point is most unfortunate, and there is no joy in writing it.  The concept of today's FISA court is the proposed compromise.  But as recently evidenced by the dueling Republican and Democratic 'Memos' regarding the "Russian Interference Investigation," the Government can become an instrument of politics and therefore a weapon against citizens' right to freedom and privacy. 

Aside: What if the enigma were unCrackable? How a Nazi Enigma Machine Works

Encryption to maintain privacy is critical, if not ineffectual.  And anyway, it can and should be breached when there are dire or imminent circumstances that would warrant (emphasis on warrant) compromising it.

Surveillance Cameras Made by China are Hanging All over the United States

This author has come to accept that resistance is futile, unless one is prepared to live without communications technology.  Or, simply, use an old-fashioned flip-phone.   Predatory private technology is simply too pervasive to harbor the illusion that the populace will have any privacy.  Mark Zuckerberg said it himself at the Crunchie Awards Jan 2010:  "Privacy is no longer a 'social norm.'"  And people do not possess sufficient technical proficiency to fight it.  Nay, they may even invite the intrusions whether by design or incidence.  We have reached a point where technology is so advanced that we have no alternative but to acquiesce.  

Sisyphus Re-Imagined

The Government inspires this author to re-imagine the Myth of Sisyphus. 

The imagery is that of Sisyphus, who represents Private Enterprise. 

The insuperable Boulder represents Governmental regulation, corruption, inefficiency and its paradoxical enmity toward successful private business-persons.   

The Peak of the promontory, or its Plateau -- theoretically unattainable --  represents Success and Wealth Creation.... 

And a final Actor:  an angry, progressive populace, waiting at the Plateau, with grimaced faces and sharpened pitchforks to 'greet' Sisyphus in the unlikely event that he prevails. 

Read: Licenses to Kill Opportunity (WSJ, Nov 24 2017) | A new study shows how state licensing rules block upward mobility.

A Man's Perambulation

 

To be a man can be a daunting walk of spiritual solitude were it not for the camaraderie and empathy of like-minded men.

This  Nick   Galifianakis  cartoon was originally published on February 24, 2016 for the   Carolyn Hax   advice column in  The Washington Post  and other syndicated newspapers. 

This Nick Galifianakis cartoon was originally published on February 24, 2016 for the Carolyn Hax advice column in The Washington Post and other syndicated newspapers. 

Galerie Bourseiller

Philippe Bourseiller travels the world in the tradition of the great adventurer-photographers, with a present-day environmental sensibility, even urgency.  His photographs record that which has been forever changed; indeed, many locations are now inaccessible or significantly altered due to climate change.  Mr Bourseiller's work is "a testimony to share, to reflect upon and to take action.” 

Mr Bourseiller 'observes' remote, sometimes dangerous, earth chambres into stunning works of art.  He implores Nature’s extremes and She responds with redolent fury: in volcanoes, in endless expansions of sand and ice and remote villages. He has documented change caused by the forces of nature, by global warming, by upheavals due to geopolitics and the results of pollution and deforestation in over one hundred countries. The goal is to create a record for future generations that he hopes will promote sensitivity to the plants, animals and human beings that have adapted to or been displaced by these transformations.

Mr Bourseillier is currently documenting the dramatic changes in the Earth's potable water sources for UNESCO:  97.5% of the water present on Earth is salt water. Only 2.5% is fresh water......  70% of the fresh water is frozen and the rest is buried in the deep phreatic layers of the Earth......  1.3 billion human beings do not have access to drinking water.....  The consumption of water increased 6x in the twentieth century.....  Agriculture absorbs 70% of the fresh water used.

Mr Bourseiller self-finances his critical work through the sale of museum-framed [3x]limited-edition large-format prints.  For inquiries click here or simply enjoy this small sample.  Detailed views here, password #<3Earth.

A Conversation About Reality

Two friends of mine had a conversation about transparency, privacy and Reality Winner.  Winner was arrested on June 3, 2017, on suspicion of leaking an intelligence report about Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections to the news website The Intercept. I 'overheard' this conversation and thought it was worth sharing. 

Point | Counterpoint

Is Reality Winner a hero?

I haven't read a ton into the document that she leaked. I guess it would all depend on whether one felt that the public had a right to know the information that the government was keeping secret. If so, she's a whistleblower. If not, she's a leaker. I don't think there should be a knee jerk reaction to something like this... there are certainly MANY things that the government is hiding to protect illegal, unethical or shady behavior... but that doesn't mean EVERY leak is legitimate. But having said that, I generally believe that the government is not transparent enough, so I'd probably say this was likely in the public interest. And what do you think, Sir?

I believe that Ms Winner is an irresponsible, mal-informed Millennial faux-victim who is about to learn the consequence of making an oath to the People and breaking it.

Reality, indeed.

Transparency is not a good unto itself. It is a fallacy to believe that abject transparency is best. The lack of transparency is why android is better than iPhone, Boeing makes a better jet than Airbus, or for that matter, any business is able to maintain a healthy profit margin.

Moreover, the People already do have full transparency by virtue of their elective representatives who perform at their service and their best interest -- neighborhood by neighborhood. That is why there are Intelligence Committees so that some representative from your neighborhood can assess and monitor confidential State secrets without compromising the integrity or well-being of the State (should such information get out).

It is not for some 24-year old knave to decide what is in the best interest of the People. And if she did become legitimately concerned, there were appropriate channels -- secure -- through which to express her grievances. The whole ecosphere of "nothing is private' if allowed to metastasize will be a destroyer of real and financial assets, let alone sovereign nations.

 

Appreciate the time and effort you put into this reply. However, it seems like you think that I was advocating unchecked transparency - I was not. More importantly, you are assuming that our elected representatives are acting in our best interest, and there are *countless* examples where they have not and most of those involve hiding behind confidentiality and 'national security'. Ed's disclosures just happen to be the most glaring example of that.

Some choice quotes:

'The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.'' - Patrick Henry, American colonial revolutionary.

'Government ought to be all outside and no inside. . . . Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.' - Woodrow Wilson

'The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.' John Fitzgerald Kennedy

And one for fun:

'It's not me who can't keep a secret. It's the people I tell that can't.' ― Abraham Lincoln

 

funny.... :-).....  should we all know the nuclear codes?

nope.

 

whew.  ok so we agree there is a threshold......  and I believe we could also agree that that threshold should not be determined by any random person.

Instead the responsibility of, ahem, transparency should be endowed to a person chosen by the People...

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of course not. it's determined by the courts. but a person who believes that impropriety is happening and that the chain of command explicitly values hiding that impropriety has no choice but to go public. it's after that occurrence, that the judgement is made.  and often times, it's only with some amount of time/distance and historical context does that become obvious.

Ellsberg was considered by many to be a traitor and a leaker. He was vindicated by the courts and is now fairly consistently understood to be a patriot.

It is determined by the courts only when there is disagreement regarding the propriety of the Constitution.... the responsibility is otherwise endowed to the People's representatives.  Those guys from your neighborhood whom you and your neighbors sent to Washington to represent your interests.

And, it appears that we agree that the courts decide the 'appropriateness' or legality of a leak, and on this the courts have been certifiably unambiguous.  Note that Snowden, (Chelsea) Manning, and Winner are, each, either indicted, convicted, or on-the-run.  Indeed, in these matters I do believe in the Courts' judgment.

We must then agree to disagree.

Immigration Kabuki

Americans are up in arms -- for and against -- the enhanced scrutiny for immigrants entering the country.  And for good reason.  The United States have had profound consequential experience of 'illegal' immigration.  In the other direction.  

The Caddo Nation, a confederacy of Southeastern Native American tribes, used the word "tejas" -- which means "friends" -- as the root name for the area that is the state of Teixas, or "Texas."  

Friends, indeed.

In 1821, when Mexico won its independence from Spain, Mexican Texas became part of the new nation.  Soon thereafter, the Mexicans relaxed their immigration policies to allow migrants from the United States.  They wanted to spur population growth and protect the province from incursion by inviting legal 'Anglo' immigrants as a buffer against the growing wave of illegal migrants from the United States.  Mexico recruited settlers from the United States, Europe, and the Mexican interior -- termed empresarios -- and granted them enormous tracts of arable land.

As a result of the open immigration policy, the population of Teixas grew rapidly.  In 1825, the Teixas population was 3,500 inhabitants, primarily Mexican (~90%).  But by 1834, nine years later, the Teixas population had grown to 37,800 (a growth rate of +30% per year!!).  Only 7,800 inhabitants were of Mexican descent in 1834 (~20%).  

But the New Teixanos were surly.  They openly violated Mexican law -- the laws against slavery, in particular.  And illegal immigration from the United States continued to be a problem.  So, in 1830, the Mexican authorities reversed course and enacted laws to prohibit immigration from the United States.  The new laws also established customs duties -- known today as "border adjustments" -- angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and the farmers on either side of the border.  Sound familiar?

The unrest grew to an armed insurgency in late 1835 at the Battle of Gonzales, and eventually the Teixas Revolution.  The Teixans defeated the Mexican troops and subsequently began negotiations to be annexed to the United States.  The expansionist President James K. Polk ultimately annexed Texas to the United States after his electoral victory in 1844.  On December 29, 1845, Congress admitted Texas to the U.S. as a constituent state of the Union.

After Texas's annexation, Mexico broke diplomatic relations with the United States. 

O, the irony!

The Curmudgeon Speaks | Mobile Phones

A series based upon a baby boomer's observations of Millennial society.

Mobile phones are a pestilence.  A scourge upon the imagination.  

There are some positives.  But, overall they degrade the human experience.

Look around you.  Count the number of people captivated by their phones.  They are unaware of you, and probably unaware of their companion(s).  

Young people have abdicated the art of conversation.  I attended a party recently of twenty-somethings.  Most were gazing their phones.  Scrolling.  Typing.  Catatonic.  It may as well have been a party for the deaf and mute.  In fact, I may likely have had more communication with the latter.  At least there would have been eye contact.

People do not think anymore.  Every question becomes a project for Google Search.  Why think?  Google has all the answers.

I can remember when an idle mind lead to great outcomes.  The idle mind stokes the imagination: lovers glance, ideas percolate.  Part of the wonderful experience of being alive is in the uniqueness and connectedness of the world around us.  Not the blue screen.  The rhythm of our shoes hitting the sidewalk -- or the dirt road -- is itself portable music. 

There was an episode of Star Trek Next Generation -- worth watching -- where such a portable device -- a game -- distracted the Enterprise crew to a fault, whereby the crew were no longer able to perform their duties.  The Ktarians offered the mobile devices as a gift.  And it turned out to be a Trojan Horse:  the game was psychologically addictive (a Virtual Reality Addiction, like, say, Pokemon Go), and the crew became mind-controlled by the Ktarians.  The Game episode aired in 1991, a prophetic warning before mobile phones existed.      

Eric Pickersgill | www.ericpickersgill.com/removed

Eric Pickersgill | www.ericpickersgill.com/removed

Beaux Arts | Second Avenue Subway

OK, so it took New York nearly one hundred years to complete any of the stations on Second Avenue.  And the construction cost for the City was $4.5 Billion for only four station stops.  Yes, that is a 'B.'

The art, however, is pretty amazing.

Close-ups of Chuck Close' tile mosaic self-portrait at the 86th Street Station @ Second Avenue

The American Race

Today's breathless discussions of race and racism are shrill and exhausting.  The 'R' word has become a slur, a moniker overused, that dishonors the poignant significance of the institutional perpetration of racism in US history.  In reality, Racism is a plausible, natural consequence of "e pluribus unum" -- one People, many tribes -- And that we forge a free and democratic country is a testament to the primary importance of American values, and our pursuit of a more perfect Union. 

But our stories are complicated.

Does any one doubt that President Lyndon Johnson was a racist?  Of course he was.  And yet, as President, Johnson inherited and passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, using all of his political capital and that of his Democrat Party.  And, a year later, he did the same for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  These were the landmark re-affirmations of American values since the drafting of the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson was, among his many accomplishments, a slave-owner and a paedophile.  Sally Hemings, his house-slave, was fourteen when she gave birth to the first of TJ's children.  Worse, Sally Hemings was TJ's half-sister-in-law because TJ's father-in-law was also an enthusiast of captive miscegenation.  Yet, does anyone doubt Jefferson's profound associative genius and sage stewardship in bringing about the birth of this Nation?

Margaret Sanger and Walt Disney were avowed eugenecists.  Sanger despised ‘blacks’ and promoted abortion as a means of reducing black population growth. But should that keep women from engaging the benefits of Planned Parenthood?  Or should parents prohibit their children from the wonderful Walt Disney cartoons?  Of course not.

And so on.  Let us accept, by definition that we Americans are racists, all.  

"Race is the classification of humans into groups based on physical traits, ancestry, genetics or social relations, or the relations between them. First used to refer to speakers of a common language and then to denote national affiliations, by the 17th century race began to refer to physical (i.e. phenotypical) traits. The term was often used in a general biological taxonomic sense, starting from the 19th century, to denote genetically differentiated human populations defined by phenotype."

I thus find it useful that racial beliefs and their prejudices bubble into the open, like earthworms after a deep rain -- even when those views are ignoble.  Because, in the open, racism stands a greater chance of scrutiny, crushed by Americans' collective commitment to be 'good' and thus it has less chance to sustain.  I would rather know of one's misguided enmity towards ethnicity or pigmentation, than to be unaware of it with no chance to confront it.  We all condemned the casual racism of Donald Sterling, for example, in synchronous voices, from hip hopsters to the Hoover Institution.    

We must accept that there are varied voices, contrary voices, to be heard in this country.  And that acceptance is a fidelity to the American Race.  I am not generally concerned that an Appalachian white blue-collar male harbors enmity towards people of a darker pigment.  It is wrong-headed and long-term unsustainable.  What I do care about is our collective commitment to the American Experiment:  A melting pot of different peoples and cultures and that by committing to resolve our differences and, yes, our prejudices, it makes us the greatest country ever conceived.  And I also care enough about that fidelity that -- despite one's apparent racism -- I would fight just as hard for that Appalachian to have the inalienable right to express his voice as well.  

I have offered a shoulder to many cohorts who are concerned about the supposed racism of Donald Trump.  But one could say the same of just about every former US President.  And yet we have historically achieved the birth of the women's suffragette movement; the liberation and emergence of colored peoples; the equal rights to pursue Love, Liberty and non-gender public 'evacuation' for the LGBTQ community; the election of the first and second Black Presidents, and so on.  Private prejudices have not thwarted the People's public progress.

The divisions stoked by the news-as-entertainment posse, masquerading as sober news media, however, are real.  The otherwise understandable business-model to capture as many eyeballs as possible corrupts fact-based reporting and it tears at the American cycle of problem solving.  By the media's reporting, for example, Blacks would believe that there is a secret-mission by the Establishment police to assassinate black men, yet the FBI's statistics show that the numbers of morbid consequence -- however tragic -- have greatly declined.  It is only the reporting that has changed.  Or that the good folks from Red States are too stupid to know how to vote their future let alone that of their country.  Or, for example, media's scouring old footage to reveal "what dumb thing did Donald say" is cynical when one considers the -- private -- dalliances of the late great Americans such as John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King or Eleanor Roosevelt.  Or when the media promulgates personal biases as hard journalism.

What we need from our Leadership is an unapologetic commitment to the American Race -- which means every color, creed, gender, religion or sexual orientation included.  We must stop the specious and cynical compartmentalization of the American electorate, honed to an art by at least one of the political parties.  Had I been Trump when asked about David Duke, my answer would have been that "I abhor every hateful notion for which David Duke stands, but I want his vote.  Just as I do want the vote of Americans with Mexican heritage, devoted members of Black Lives Matter, third-wave feminists, and queers."  Only by including everyone under the tent do we continue to advance the American agenda, the American Race -- the non-exclusive "everyone-is-welcome" Race whose membership credentials are the embrace of an immutable set of founding  principles.  

Thus is the spirit of the "pursuit of Happiness" in order to form a more "Perfect Union."  Such spirit of unity advances the American Race, defined by the principle of an unfettered, full-throated, policy of inclusion.  It is not fascist:  the democratic Government serves at the will of the People, the collective good of the multi-faceted 'pluribus.'   Yes, it is Nationalist, but of a different sort:  our collective national dignity would not allow that we refer to each other by skin hue, or  measure one's patriotism by the continent from whence came our forebears.  

Quotable: Maverick Carter

GQ Magazine:  A lot of successful businessmen are perceived as assholes. Is Maverick Carter an asshole?

Maverick Carter:  That's a very good question. You know, you hate to call yourself an asshole, but yes. You have to be. It's very hard to get shit done while always being super-extra nice. And ultimately, what is an asshole? It's a person who has supreme confidence and believes in what he's doing. It's hard to get anything done without being an asshole.
 

NYC Marathon 2016 | Haarlem Vue

Every year, we walk out to Mount Morris Park, with friends and neighbors, to watch the Leaders of the NYC Marathon pass (fly) by Mile 22.  Here are some of the images.  

It was a particularly exciting race this year with Mary Keitany winning the Women's group by nearly four minutes.  And Ghirmay Ghebreslassie finishing in 2:07:51, the third fastest runner in the marathon's history, and at age 20, the youngest winner ever.

We were also witness to an unreported act of kindness.  One of the Leaders, Marathon runner Musa Babo Ido (Bib 210), severely cramped-up at Mile 22 with uncertainty whether he would be able to continue.  An experienced (fifteen marathons) but unparticipating septuagenarian man, a stranger, emerged from the crowd, took off his sweater and gave it to Mr Ido to keep him warm in the event that Mr Ido may have to walk to the finish.  Mr Ido finished twelfth with a time of 2:17:57.

The top-ten most (personally) influential music albums

Some time ago a friend asked me to write out the ten most influential albums** of my life.  I dismissed it.  "Pfffffft."  I was 'busy', after all.

But the question nagged.  And I decided to give it a try.  What were the most influential albums -- not necessarily the favorites -- to my life?

It turned out to be a meaningful personal reflection.  It was difficult getting to just ten albums over a span of fifty years.  But it focused the mind.  So here they are (in no particular order):

Camille Saint Saens, Symphony No.3 'Organ Symphony (Eugene Ormandy)
Carl Orff, Carmina Burana ( Eugen Jochum, Berlin Orchestra)
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions
David Bowie, Scary Monsters
Miles Davis, Man with the Horn
Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 ( Herbert von Karajan)
Mandrill, Mandrilland
Igor Stravinsky, Le Sacre du Printemps (Charles Dutoit)
Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers, A Night in Tunisia
Fela Kuti, Zombie

Honorable Mention: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar

Each choice elicited an intense visceral reaction (tears, amazement, a gut-punch) that sustains to this day.

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**If you are under thirty five please regard the following link for clarification.

GrandPaDJs.jpg

Go'ment or Private Sector

Once one has had to interact with the apparatchiks of the governmental regulatory cabal, it would be virtually impossible not to become, subsequently, a small government conservative. 

The perverse incentives that the Government 'get the fat cats' is a creeping socialism that should rightly concern all citizens.  To that end, the Government has no need for truth, because the ends justify the means.  It is thus happy to cross the line of decency and integrity.  This author has endured as well the sometimes reckless Government pogrom to 'adjudicate' the Wall Street “Fat Cats.” 

Trump cannot help but be a boor, and, as President, he possibly harms the country with his attacks at the veracity of our governmental institutions.  But he has a point about the Deep State, one that is missed by most people because the average citizen sees the government as their source of salvation and opportunity, not oppressor of free markets and stifler of personal and financial independence that it can be.

The Google grunt

I appreciate the Google Search free dictionary, but I have found the service to be, well, terrible. If you have not tried it yet, type any single word in Google Search, and usually, Google will show the word's definition as the first item.  I suspect, however, that  Google definitions derive from the colloquial use of the word, culled from the Internet ecosphere, and do not represent the curated meaning of the word. Such is the problem when 'facts' have been democratized through social networking.

The Google definitions also provide a short etymology, which is admirable, but Google does not indicate the source.  There can be a chasm of difference between The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) definitions versus Merriam-Webster or Random House.  The Google definitions are primitive, and marginally inaccurate, the equivalence of a Neanderthal grunt.

Recently, for example, I sought to describe a counter-party in a negotiation as 'circumspect.'  Google defines 'circumspect' as "to be wary and unwilling to take risks."  That would be hardly complimentary.  Nor would it reflect the true meaning of the word. The Random House definition is: 
1. watchful and discreet; cautious; and
2. well-considered. 
BIG difference. The Google definition is unflattering, and connotes my counter-party to be an indecisive putz, whereas the true definition describes someone who is admirably prudent.

It would helpful if Google would publish the source institution that provided the definition, but even more helpful if the definitions were accurate. Words matter.
 

Wayne Weddington

Put it away

A newspaper editor once intended to wordsmith a Winston Churchill statement.  Churchill's statement to the press, however, ended with the preposition, "with."  When the editor (correctly) pointed out that grammatically correct sentences should not end with a preposition, Churchill reputedly replied that, "This is the sort of English up with which I cannot put."

His intent was to retort with a proper, sufficiently obnoxious, response to demonstrate the absurdity of proper English, in contrast to the pragmatic, colloquial compromises of everyday English.

The trouble is, Churchill's example of obnoxiously correct English failed because it also ended with the preposition,  "put" !

The obnoxious, grammatically correct, alternatives should have been:

"This is something to put, with which up, I cannot."; or

"This is something with which to put-up, I cannot."; or

"This is something, up, with which to put, I cannot."; or

"This is something with which up to put, I cannot."

Just sayin'.