Do You Believe in Masking

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MASKING

sung to the tune of “Do you Believe in Magic” with apologies to The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Do you believe in masking? Please buy into this farce.

Of course pundits can sway you when they do their parts.

We’re all masking, if the stats are credible.

We’ll scare you with lies through a front that’s medical.

We leaders put the science in a black hole, because power and control are our real go-oals.

Do you believe in masking? Don’t believe our opponents.

Remember you’re poor, sick or a victim right at this moment.

You must listen– you must obey,

or you’ll get sick and die. Your fears are growing by the day.

You must cover your face. If you don’t know, how we got here: it’s for the presidential ra-ace.

If you believe in masking, come along with us. You’re clueless on biology, so don’t make a fuss.

And maybe, if our flawed reasoning wins, you’ll be ours on election day because you’ll forget our sins.

No more rights baby, then you’ll see– masking helps the power and we’re the powers that be, yeah…

Do you believe in masking, yeah; believe in the masking of a nation’s soul, believe in the masking — really power and control;

believe in the masking– you’re no longer free.

Ah, talking about the masking… like we… do you believe…

Here at The New Yorker

The Book of the Week is “Here at The New Yorker” by Brendan Gill, published in 1975.

Born in 1914, Gill was the fourth of five children. His mother died when he was seven. His father was a successful surgeon in Hartford, Connecticut.

Gill went to work for The New Yorker magazine as a young adult. “Hard for young writers nowadays to realize how many magazines were vying for short stories in the thirties and forties; hard too to believe how much they were paid!” Sadly, propagandists who compose the words of political smear campaigns are highly compensated, but hardly any other kinds of present-day writers are. It is also interesting to note that most of the prominent writers of the twentieth century were alcoholics, but hardly any were in the eighteenth, and now, there are few of them in the twenty-first.

Harold Ross, founder and managing editor of The New Yorker, deliberately neither smeared nor promoted the subjects of nonfiction articles, and had no hidden agenda– neither financial nor ideological ulterior motives in putting out his magazine. Also, the magazine paid employees to do meticulous, honest, best-efforts fact-checking.

Gill, in his prolix prose describing his workplace’s culture, office space, and various quirky magazine-employees— mentioned James Thurber’s 1957 short story, “The Wonderful ‘O'” which can be read here:

https://www.bookscool.com/en/The-Wonderful-O-711417/1

The story covered various aspects of the human condition, and featured a greedy tyrant, herd mentality, and historical revisionism. One word was essential in the suspenseful plot. That word represents a concept that must actually be put into practice in order for a society to be democratic. Incidentally, the villain was named “Black” and the people he hurt were randomly victimized. Despite its now-controversially named villain, the story is obviously analogous to the United States’ buildup of political hostility in the most recent forty years.

The two major American political parties are engaged in a fight that resembles the Cold War between the former U.S. and the former U.S.S.R. It might be recalled that during the Cold War, there was a space race, an arms race, power-hungry posturing and the specter of the kickoff of world destruction if either side was to be the first to recklessly use a nuclear weapon.

For decades now, America’s own political parties have wreaked vicious, reputation-damaging, life-ruining vengeance against each other. This has resulted in the present situation, borne of childish political fury; in sum, the pretense of taking precautions to stem the spread of a pandemic, that has unduly oppressed all Americans, not just political targets. Shamefully, as well as shamelessly, the parties have exceeded the limits of healthy disagreement and civil discourse.

If one considers six different political systems (of course there can be combinations of more than one in the same nation): feudalism, fascism, communism, dictatorship, anarchy, and democracy, one can see that in general, democracy is the least unfair to the highest number of people because it strikes a balance more or less, between competition and cooperation in its operation.

The American brand of democracy, when it works properly, consists of representatives of the people– Congress, courts, elected officials, legislatures, assemblies, etc., who fluidly cooperate when creating or modifying laws, while members presumably cooperate within their political parties. Each party competes, or debates, when they disagree on policies, and during elections.

When in balance, both competition and cooperation bring out the best traits humans possess, and the best kind of society because there is the best chance for various capacities of improvement for all participants. However, significant imbalance inevitably causes a government to adopt traits of the first five aforementioned political systems.

The most fulfilled humans are those who have the best balance in their professional and personal lives. Therefore, those who serve the public in truly democratic governments ought to be fulfilled, as should people who partake of team sports (including the Olympics), science fairs, battle of the bands, group projects in business school, and competitive bidding in industry, among numerous other areas of American life.

Anyway, read the book to learn about Gill’s experiences at The New Yorker.

Hip to Be Scared

HIP TO BE SCARED

sung to the tune of “Hip to Be Square” with apologies to Huey Lewis and the News.

I used to be a hedonist, a social butterfly.

But I’m taking punishment, based upon a lie.

Now I’m obedient, and yes I wear a mask.

You think I’m gullible but I don’t even care.

‘Cause I discount the science.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

I hear the experts on the news. I watch them on TV.

I’m staying at home most every day and not going out to eat.

They tell me I’ll spread disease unless I really care.

I don’t think I’m gullible. My emotions I have to share.

But there’s no denying that

it’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

I’d rather be six feet apart than six feet under every day.

If you don’t have a mask, I’ll go the other way.

I don’t go on the freeway. I know it’s not a lot of fun.

But personally I can’t fight it.

An apocalypse whose time has come.

Don’t tell me that I’m gullible. My emotions I must share.

Take it from me

it’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

What’s the Matter…

“Where the destruction will end depends only on what a small scientific elite and a generally apathetic public will advocate and tolerate.”

The above was said by Dr. Everett Koop and the theologian Francis Schaeffer in 1983, with regard to the abortion issue.

The Book of the Week is “What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” by Thomas Frank, published in 2004.

American politics in the last forty or so years can be described in one word: HYPOCRISY.

The author spent his formative years in Mission Hills, Kansas. While there, he realized that wealth and various nefarious activities go together– such as dishonesty, white-collar crime, marital infidelity, mean-spiritedness and hubris syndrome.

The author explained how Kansans were converted to the Republican party beginning in the Clinton era. President Bill Clinton aligned the country economically with the conservative Republican congressman Newt Gingrich, a far-right capitalist. Clinton signed an agreement on free trade, making the Democrat and Republican platforms largely indistinguishable, save two emotionally charged, never-to-be resolved issues: abortion and gun control.

Thus began the political trend: the “culture war” and the “backlash” that opened the floodgates for propagandists to scream loudly and repeatedly in a hysterical manner about non-issues to distract voters and increase media ratings. Hardly anything has changed since then.

The author named the most prominent conservative Republican rabble rousers (in no particular order): Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, Ann Coulter, Gary Aldrich, Laura Ingraham, David Brooks, Bill O’Reilly (remember him?) and Rush Limbaugh.

But in Kansas, even prior to the Clinton era, president Reagan distracted the unwashed masses with abortion and gun control so they wouldn’t care about the economic damage he did with his union-bashing.

In the early 1990’s, the Republican party in Kansas split into moderate and far-right Christian factions. In the 1994 mid-term elections, the latter won the hearts and minds of blue-collar Christian Democrats in Wichita.

In the late 1990’s, Kansas saw three corporate scandals; these from the utility companies formerly known as Western Resources, Missouri Public Service, and United Telecommunications. Each wanted to be pre-scandal Enron, as unbridled greed was all the rage in that unregulated time.

But take heart! In 1890, radicalized farmers had a “… revelation, a moment when an entire generation of ‘Kansas fools’ figure out that they’d been lied to all their lives. Whether it was Republicans or Democrats in charge, they believed, mainstream politics were a sham battle distracting the nation from its real problem of corporate capitalism.” Those farmers voted their “masters” (who happened to be Republican at the time) out of office.

At this very time in American history, voters can do it again. However, there are a range of problems involving voting. The following video covers those problems, and suggests a way to mitigate them starting at 17:00.

Read the book to learn: the intimate details of the culture war; the backlash; about a Kansan who named himself Pope in 1990 because he refused to recognize the one in power when Vatican II began; and people passionate about pushing the conservative Republican agenda who obviously aren’t doing it for the money.

Keeping the Faith

KEEPING THE FAITH

sung to the tune of “Keeping the Faith” with apologies to Billy Joel.

It seems like we’ve been lost, so let’s remember.

We’re getting older and political grudges are all the rage.

Oh, we should have known much better, but politics is something that’s getting in our way. Oh yeah.

We’re here now because both parties blame it on each other.

Our leaders are not ashamed to say the mean people are their friends. Oh, oh.

They never had the shame to let conscience help their game.

Now we’re all slaves.

But we’re keeping the faith. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, keeping the faith.

This is just the latest crisis and the pundits don’t consider themselves the media; pundits spreading lies with the same old cliches and the same old stereotypes.

Oh, put on the teleprompters, you know, the kind with the opinions and rose-colored shades. Oh yeah.

Feature females, gays, minorities, and sling mud at the opposition.

Violence, polling, celebs and it’s the same old rant and rave.

Oh, it’s become a bore– this politicians’ war, a permanent wave. Yeah. But we’re keeping the faith. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Keeping the faith.

You might think that they do some good things.

Yet more bad things stay the same.

Say goodbye to the old road and order.

The good times will return with the good.

Tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.

Learn politics as a formal education.

Lost a lot of rights but it showed us we were off our game. Oh, oh.

Heard about “news” but not enough.

Found you could lie and still look tough anyway. (Oh yes we diiid.)

Found out a phone doesn’t cure depression.

Ate an awful lot of late-night movie food.

Drank a lot of “stay at home” bait.

We knew we were doing good, when we learned all we could, about voting in our state. Oh yeah.

We’re keeping the faith. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Keeping the faith.

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.

The good times will return with the good.

Tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.

We know the reasons for the whole revival.

Now we’re going outside to meet our fate.

Long-term we won’t have to strive.

Ain’t it wonderful to be alive when we free the States. Yeah.

When we open the floodgates. Yeah.

We’re keeping the faith. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Keeping the faith. We’re keeping the faith. Yes we’re… you know we’re keeping the faith…

The Good, the Bad and Me

The Book of the Week is “The Good, the Bad, and Me, In My Anecdotage” by Eli Wallach, published in 2005.

Wallach was an actor of stage and screen. In many ways, he lived in a bygone era. Born in December 1915, he grew up in a Jewish family among mostly Italians, in a few different working-class neighborhoods in Brooklyn. Horse-drawn wagons sold fruit, milk and ice. The horses’ manure was sold as fertilizer. The Italians put on puppet shows, and had parades honoring Jesus and the saints, with floats, refreshments, and a band playing the national anthem. A marching band would play at funerals.

The value of money was quite high in the early twentieth century. If pennies were run over by the streetcar, they could be filed down to take on the structure of nickels, which could be used in pay phones. In 1932, Wallach began to attend the University of Texas as an out-of-state student for $30 a year. He roomed at a boardinghouse for $40 a month, including meals. His second year there, however, the school raised its tuition to $100 a year. Even so, the dean helped students find work so they could afford their educations.

In 1936, Wallach got free tuition at City College of New York when he took classes toward his master’s degree in teaching, at his older brother’s behest. He got a scholarship to Neighborhood Playhouse, an acting school, also in Manhattan. There, famous instructors taught Method acting. In the 1940’s, open-air double-decker buses that graced Greenwich Village, charged five cents. Wallach shared a one-room furnished apartment on lower Fifth Avenue for which he paid $35 a month. Maid service was included.

However, in 1956, the author hired a press agent for himself and actress-wife for $125 a week. That was a steep price. Ed Sullivan reported in his column that Wallach and his wife had lost their yacht in a sea storm– a line planted by the agent in the New York Daily News. The agent was let go.

Growing up, Wallach never met any black people. He heard about them in Harlem, but had never been there. While in college in Texas, he worked as an usher at a theater in Austin. He escorted blacks to their seats, which were relegated to the (nosebleed section) balcony only.

During Wallach’s fabulous career, in 1961, he acted in an absurdist play written by Eugene Ionesco, called Rhinoceros. It was about how herd mentality turned people into rhinoceroses when they conformed to State authority. For more information about the plot, see the following:

When Wallach acted in a film in Italy in the late 1950’s, he found that some people disagreed with him on how to portray their characters. He wrote, “It had always seemed to me that calling it the Method was incorrect; each country, each society, each theater, and each actor devises his own method.” Such is true of life at large.

Read the book to learn more about Wallach’s life.

My Story

“I don’t think unnecessary suffering builds character at all. It doesn’t make you a better person, it makes you a bitter person; and anyone who walks around claiming it’s good for you is kidding himself and trying to kid the nation.”

The above was said by someone who favored student loans subsidized by the government, as she needed to borrow money to get her education. She felt no one should have to experience extreme hardships by working around the clock for an education. Unlike females, males of her generation could take advantage of the G.I. Bill. And not all those males were sent overseas to fight in a war.

The Book of the Week is “Ferraro, My Story” by Geraldine Ferraro With Linda Bird Francke, published in 1985.

Born in Newburgh, New York in the mid-1930’s, Ferraro became an only child after her family suffered a few tragic deaths before she was born. Her father died when she was eight. Thereafter, she and her mother moved to the South Bronx.

Ferraro was an assistant district attorney in Queens county in New York City for four years, then completed almost three terms as a member of the U.S. Congress. Her political career got a big boost when she was nominated as the first female vice-presidential candidate in America in 1984.

Unsurprisingly, she was subjected to vicious: ethnic slurs, anti-abortion sentiments and sexism. Notwithstanding, at the Democrat Convention in July in San Francisco, via acclamation, almost four thousand delegates yelled “aye” to nominate Ferraro.

Two weeks (yes, that late!) into her candidacy, Ferraro got mud slung at her from all directions. Her political enemies persecuted her and her family for four months straight– right up until election day. Tens of newspaper reporters went on a “fishing expedition” into her husband’s financial affairs, going back years and years, desperate to find any dirt they possibly could.

Nevertheless, Ferraro stuck to the political issues of the day. She lamented, “So often in Congress, those who would vote against abortion funding for the poor would also be the first to cut back funds for aid to children, nutrition programs, even prenatal programs for poor mothers who want to have healthy children.”

In October 1984, the TV audience for Ferraro’s first debate against vice president George H.W. Bush numbered approximately eighty million viewers. Those were the good old days, when the nation was enjoying relative peace and recovering from a serious recession.

Americans had a feel-good president, so they were passive about maintaining their civil rights. Many felt no need to actively push for political change, which can be achieved via five major methods: litigation, voting, non-violent protesting (including corresponding with politicians), running for office oneself, and violence. The first four of those five require hard work and incredible patience to get results. The fifth is immediate, but exacts the heaviest price of all.

Currently, some might say that certain protest-planners are instigating violence in order to bring back Constitutional scholars, civil right attorneys, public defenders and legal-aid type people, whose numbers have diminished considerably in recent decades. However, there are none so dangerous as those who have read their history and have the power and resources to repeat the evil they’ve read about.

Sadly, there must be some evolutionary advantage to the predisposition for nastiness, else it would have been eliminated from the human gene pool generations ago. Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his book “The Gulag Archipelago” wrote, “… a human being hesitates and bobs back and forth between good and evil all his life… But when through the density of evil actions, the result either of their extreme degree or of the absoluteness of power, he suddenly crosses that threshold, he has left humanity behind, and without, perhaps, the possibility of return.”

A major ingredient in the mix of tyranny includes dishonesty. During a dispute between Mary McCarthy and Lillian Hellman, in an interview, McCarthy said of Hellman, “…every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the.’ ”

On that note, here is a relevant parody about various dishonest parties, sung to the tune of “Miami, 2017” with apologies to Billy Joel. Strangely enough, Joel thought a blackout (the July 1977 one in New York City) was a major historical event.

AMERICA, 2020

I’ve seen the LIES go out on Broadway.

I saw the United States laid low.

And life went on beyond Stockholm.

The Swedish government was mature and wise,

and Sweden recovered long ago.

Jews held a funeral out in Brooklyn.

Their religious freedom received a blow.

Trump made governors king.

With a selfish power thing,

we couldn’t go on with our normal life flow.

I’ve seen the LIES go out from “experts.”

I saw the mighty nation cowed.

Leaders were awaiting this opportunity.

They used the virus to strike.

They said nothing was allowed.

They crashed the economy in most places,

used “scorched earth” tactics with sour grapes.

The victims were everywhere, but the government didn’t care.

The palace intrigue was like the Nixon tapes.

I’ve seen the LIES go out from the TV.

I’ve watched the masks and “six feet apart” every day.

The medical supplies were waiting for all those patients.

So much misallocation.

All Americans are the ones who pay.

They sent a stimulus to the people,

and made it seem so generous.

They pushed the fiscal cliff, saying, what the hell’s the dif?

And threw everyone under the bus.

You know those LIES are nothing new for us; soon to be many lies ago.

Now we all live on social media. And politics is all we know.

There are not many who’ll forget this. They say America’s in decline.

So– remind the world about, the way the LIES went out to keep the memory alive…

Anyway, read Ferraro’s book to learn more about her vice-presidential campaign and her life.

One last thing:

Thomas Sydenham advised, “The arrival of a good clown exercises more beneficial influence upon the health of a town than of twenty jackasses laden with drugs.”