By John Hessburg
Editor, The DICTION AERIE
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, AMERICA ! HAPPY 242nd BIRTHDAY !
Go ahead, American citizens -- and those who aspire to that privilege -- take a breather, toss back a cold one and share a few grins at a picnic among friends today. Let's explore a topic seldom touched by network newscasters, those high priests of cynical sniffing -- and that's down-home Patriotism. But first let's clear our minds of debris.
No reason to wallow in the daily muck and murk of the Nag-ative Media Spectrum -- that flows like a sewage stream from MSNBC on the Self-Righteous Waspish Left * to Fox News on the Paranoid Pitbull Right. **
* As in the blithering lip-tides of Rachel Maddow, who loves the sound of her own voice so passionately, it's amazing that she doesn't close each show by falling to the floor and making out with a full-length mirror.
** As in the sycophantic rants of Sean Hannity, who somehow keeps a straight face while veering so far from the pillars of journalistic integrity -- accuracy and fairness -- that one wonders if he's aspiring to farcical self-parody of some state-steered propagandist.
Before we cut loose for the 4th, launching festive driveway bottle rockets, we need to own this, Americans: we're lurching midway through another turbulent year; through heart-sickening mass murders; through scared little kids in cages keening for their Moms; through searing images of refugees, wars, wildfires, floods, unarmed civilians gunned down and one flap-eared little jughead juvenile dictator with the worst haircut in fashion history, who runs state Gulags more vicious than anything Stalin ever dreamed of, who greased his own uncle with a firing squad of anti-aircraft cannons and his half-brother with nerve toxin, and who launched ballistic missile tests over (our ally) Japan's sovereign air space yet nobody did a damn thing about it -- now being hailed by the White House as "funny," "talented" and a "strong head" of his people.
Given the de rigueur dismay, the fashionable nihilism of Millennials today, what does it really mean today -- this nebulous term "Patriotism" -- so profoundly ignored by media mouthpieces who pretend to know it all?
Simple stuff... We love our country deeply -- the same way we love our family and old friends. And that means we take the bitter with the better.
Are you maybe missing days gone by, when the Pledge of Allegiance meant something healthy to nearly all our citizens? Thirsty to see a positive passion for patriotism rolling like fresh wind through your community again? Well here's a thought: stop bitching and start pitching in. See a need in your neighborhood park, your kids' school, your church or temple, your home town? Then step up and do something about it instead of just hissing and moaning.
DO SOMETHING! Lead, follow or get out of the way. And may God bless the American Experiment in Democracy for centuries more. With do-ers not talkers.
Saints and sinners, losers and winners -- nobody's home country is perfect -- and none of our nations, none of us citizens, deserve to stand aloof from our esteemed neighbors in the G7, nor in the 2nd and 3rd Worlds.
Big oil, big dollars, big weapons, big egos -- all that means little in the long run. What makes America great is not donning a red baseball cap and waving signs like medicated cheerleaders behind the POTUS podium. What makes America great is our capacity for taking on the tasks that others are afraid or unqualified to tackle; our capacity for engaging the globe in gracious giving, in defense of the oppressed; and our willingness to admit mistakes then work hard to make things better -- even when that means giving up our own comfort, time and treasure.
Here's a prime example. After the devastating tsunami of Dec. 26, 2004 killed some 230,000 people in 14 countries circling the Indian Ocean, oil-rich Saudi Arabia pledged $30 million in aid. The USA rushed in more than 11 times that -- $350 million. Now, most of the death toll (more than 200,000) was in Indonesia, a Muslim-majority nation with widespread grinding poverty. That did little to inspire the ultra-wealthy Saudis, whose initial offering was a mere $10 million. Then outraged nations across the globe slapped their cheeks for weeks until the Saudis dug deeper. However, as ever, the USA ponied up a generous sum & began shipping food, water and medical supplies to the victims almost immediately.
Need more reasons to feel patriotic about the USA?
OK, there's the American Spirit of Invention, the list of periodically stunning innovations that literally swept our planet into the Age of High Technology: from the phonograph, the telegraph, the telephone, the light bulb, to the airplane, the automobile assembly line, the motorcycle, movies, the moon landing, the solar cell, the electric guitar, cable TV, the space shuttle, the personal computer, video games and the smart phone.
Oh, nearly forgot -- on the cultural side there are a few more li'l footnotes to world history: Jazz, the Blues, and Rock 'n Roll...
But our finest virtue as Americans has nothing to do with some inherent glamour or goodness.
Not at all. Our prime virtue, perhaps our only real nobility, derives from endless energetic striving, from the grit and determination year-after-year to widen the canopy of our sheltering tent, reaching out more to those less blessed. And never giving up.
Another thing praise-worthy about the USA is that our system, nearly always, will reward those who dream big, and who work hard with diligence and integrity to realize those dreams.
OK, cynics and naysayers, consider this... Since when does any relationship come without painful rough edges? Sometimes our parents, our children, our spouses and friends, vex us until we feel like screaming out loud. Same with our nation.
So it's vital not to forget this fact: as we live in loyalty, as we're waiting/working for America to revive its will to protect and proliferate the ideals -- bold and beautiful ideals embodied by the Founders in our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution and our Bill of Rights -- there's no law anywhere requiring that we must go soft in the head, roll over and play dead while self-absorbed politicians, Robber Baron Olig-Orcs and elitists plunder our economy, our environment, our resources, the innocence of our youth, our private data and our cherished local traditions.
Hell No! Our Bill of Rights guarantees us all, within reasonable limits, the inalienable rights to bellow like a banshee and battle like a cornered badger to protect the health, the spirit, the families, the faith communities, the safety and security of the ones we love, in this land we love. For what father, what mother, would not fight to the last breath to crush anything trying to harm their own children?
So it goes with anyone loyal to their home country. Sometimes loyalty to one's nation -- precisely the same emotional vector as honest family dynamics -- calls for us to stand up, speak up and call BS on this great nation's leaders, if they have wandered as far from their family duties as the proverbial prodigal son. Or daughter.
Yes, we have a constitutional right to rail at incompetent people in power.
Rail then vote them out of power, even put them behind bars if need be. But we never ditch our family, our people, our country. We stand by those we love, and we NEVER turn our back on them. The man or woman in office -- any given term -- may be a moral maggot ostensibly beyond redemption, whose mere presence sucks the joy out of living, but the office he or she holds, and the centuries of democracy underpinning that office, are precious -- essential components to our survival as a free republic. Therefore we don't rush to trash those institutions; we protect and reform them continually -- while hosing them down, disinfecting them at the ballot box.
"Love is patient," Paul the Tent Maker advised us. "Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." So we work for the new day, knowing it WILL be better; and that love for our nation will still burn vividly tomorrow -- after we shrug off the grit of vexation -- and we try again. We work before we blather; and we try again...
And that is the definition of patriotism that I feel for our native land -- nuestra patria, unsere Heimat. It is not about knee-jerk jingoism and pie-eyed flag-waving, the currency of slogan-thinkers and people who never read. At its core, real patriotism is all about the willingness to keep on keeping on, so the Home Fire never burns out -- for all our neighbors, even the strange ones, the silent ones we're afraid to meet -- well outside our jealously demarcated property lines and tightly-gripped possessions.
Being a bona fide patriot does not mean being some bleating sheep, a pushover nor a patsy for the cunning manipulators, the cold-souled users of men and means. Patriots keep a sharp eye on the near and the far horizons of their Homeland. Now I'm talking HOME-land here. The land of our soul's repose, our heart's respect, our mind's alliance. Not fatherland -- that's a Nazi notion. Not motherland -- that's a Soviet notion. Just Homeland, pure and simple.
And so protecting our Homeland does not mean fearing that everyone who disagrees with us, or speaks with an accent, is venomous or vile. What it does mean is remaining vigilant. Always poised to defend her from all enemies with vigor and intensity of purpose, even when some of our leaders are dimwits, political cowards, moral relativists or sold-out apologists for those One-Tenth-of-One-Percenters, the Olig-Orcs whose goal is to mine American souls -- and all of their personal data -- for profit.
So friends, once more with feeling... Happy 4th of July; Happy Birthday USA !
Good health and good cheer to all our fellow Americans, and our many beloved friends around the world who respect the ideals that the United States of America has struggled to uphold since 1776.
Remember, the operative word here is "struggled."
And the beat goes on ...
© Copyright 2018 - 2020, John Hessburg & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
© Copyright 2016-2020, John Hessburg. All rights reserved.
Funseekers, sunseekers, ladies and gents.. it's Memorial Day again! Good times... And an ideal time to teach your kids that all sweet freedoms, the Bill of Rights and abundant new reforms you enjoy every day in your Homeland, did not grow on some Android or Apple App Tree.
Memorial Day is not National Beer and Bratwurst Day.
It's an earnest day about serious work done by serious men and women for you, the blessed citizens of a country and a way of life worth fighting for.
Your freedom to work and play where you want, wear and read what you want, speak your mind with vigor, vote for your heartfelt candidate, gather in the town hall and howl at your mayor, or gather funds for a cause you deeply believe in -- did not come randomly like Spring rain.
Your freedom was not won cheaply, but at considerable cost -- the blood and toil of countless thousands of men and women who fought hard for, and often died in the mud for, a way of life that's incessantly under fire by our enemies at home and overseas. It's important for the young ones to remember -- the kids of Gen's Y and Z who grew up with noses glued to cell phones -- there's no Quick App for freedom, guys.
Those "National Freedom Downloads" cost your Homeland legions of young lives who gave it all. And for so many years I've wondered just how many American soldiers actually died in combat. Never did the math until now. It's pretty sobering when you think of all the spouses, children, parents and friends whose hearts were torn when that government car rolled slowly up a driveway -- so many times for so many foreign wars.
The U.S. Defense Department calculates that more than 1.1 million Americans died in wars around the world since 1776. No other nation in the history of this planet -- no other ever sacrificed so many of its youth to fight for freedom from oppression for its global friends. Now that IS worth remembering, honoring and teaching to our children. In fairness, our European allies need to do the same, to honor what we gave them, time and time again. Griping is cheap and plentiful, grateful hearts are rare.
Fellow Americans, and friends of America whose freedom was saved by U.S. blood, here are the universally accepted stats for how many American soldiers died in combat since the founding of our nation (and these are just the major wars):
What's more, there were a myriad smaller battles and wars such as those in Mexico, the Philippines, shameful conflicts with our own indigenous people, and the current global war on terror. And we cannot disregard the hundreds of thousands more who died -- enemy combatants, innocent civilians, the tragic "collateral damage" that accrues with every war in history. So look hard at these numbers, folks. Literally, read 'em and weep. College kids, high schoolers, put your cell phones down a sec'... Remember, reflect, and please try to install gratitude among that swirling chorus of emojis and e-motions in your busy brains.
Now a bit about beginnings. Here's an excerpt from the e-zine "LiveScience" about the origins of Memorial Day. Some partisan historians dispute nuances, as Libbers vs. Neo-Cons have been prattling on for centuries, but most folks agree this is the gist.
And once again, history proves that often the best men for a job are, yes... women.
Memorial Day's date has changed over the years, but the first actual holiday was planned for April 26, 1866, in the wake of the American Civil War. In January 1866, the Ladies' Memorial Association in Columbus, GA, passed a motion... to designate a day to throw flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers... wrote Richard Gardiner, an associate professor of history education at Columbus State University in Georgia, and co-author of "Genesis of the Memorial Day Holiday" (2014).
"However, the ladies didn't want this to be an isolated event, so Mary Ann Williams, the group's secretary, wrote a letter and sent it to newspapers all across the USA. You'll find that letter in dozens of newspapers," Gardiner said. "It was republished everywhere in the country." In the letter, the ladies asked people to honor all the fallen soldiers on April 26 — the day the bulk of Confederate soldiers surrendered in North Carolina in 1865.
"That's what many people in the South considered to be the end of the war," Gardiner said. Even though Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered on April 9, "there were still 90,000 soldiers ready to fight. And until those 90,000 surrendered on April 26, the war was effectively still going on. But the date initially was not printed correctly in every newspaper, which led Columbus, Mississippi, to celebrate the holiday one day earlier, on April 25. Because of this simple mix-up, Columbus, MS, is often mistakenly credited as the birthplace of Memorial Day, Gardiner explained."
History lesson aside, this holiday is more than an excuse for lakeside keggers, boating galas, prancing around in hot swimwear and roasting s'mores over moonlit firepits. I'll always cherish childhood memories like that -- they were wonderful -- but the numbers of Realpolitik keep filtering back into the mid-brain. Relentlessly.
Sincerest thanks to all our loyal friends among the alliance of freedom, who over the last two centuries (plus) stood side-by-side with Americans, and bled into the dirt to defend the ways and means of liberty -- especially the solid men and women of the UK, Australia, Canada -- and the French Resistance during WWII.
And so it goes; they came, they gave it all and now we all just Keep on Rockin' in the Free World !
God Bless Our Homeland and Protect the Original Brilliant Vision of 1776. Long may it all endure -- strong, resilient and ready ...
HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY, AMERICA !
A little venom here, a little toxin there; & pretty soon you're talkin' about real poison. So which specie truly IS the most lethal fish on Earth?
© Copyright 2015-2020, John Hessburg & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
Time for a bio-rant, to break up the monotony of campaign dementia. We are so sick of saturation coverage, day after day -- all this toxic rhetoric from Dems, Repubs, and the pundits who pretend to understand them. Time for a refreshing getaway -- a real vacation under the sea -- to frolic then relax amid amber waves of venom far more poisonous than any candidate can muster.
First off, back at the U.S. Dive Travel rez office, we have to groan at these "Worst This" and "Most Dangerous That" lists that flutter all over the web like stoned locusts in a hemp field, whenever social media managers run out of things to talk about. Here's the nitty gritty, folks...
A few days back, one of our esteemed colleagues in the divin' biz posted a riveting photo of one rump-ugly stonefish, with this caption -- "most venomous fish in the whole world." Immediately a buzzer went off and I could feel the bull-roar hackles rising. Say what? You sure it's the most... ?
In a sense that might be true, at least partly so. Always give it wide berth; because the stonefish can be a certifiably nasty S.O.B. But so can a sleeping hyena with an abscessed tooth -- when you shake her shoulders. Stonefish spines, when triggered, will inject a pre-synaptic nerve toxin that can halt the heart and stifle breathing. But some folks have lived for days after stepping barefoot on a stonefish; time enough for the cavalry to arrive. I've watched fishermen in Tonga scoop them off a reef with nets, carefully plop them into a bucket on board, clean them with leather gloves and exquisite TLC at the dock, then roast their muscle meat and devour it the same day!
Our SocMed friend failed to flesh out his stonefish claim with a lucid context, we feel, and therefore drifted into semi-comical hyperbole -- a quicksand pit lurking on many social media these days. ( Not all, mind you. )
I've been a PADI divemaster for 26 years, blessed to scuba-dive and free-dive in 3 dozen island nations around the world. Here's the gist: it's essential to massage the label of "most venomous" a fair bit to make this fully fit for any science journal, or person who prefers truth to conjecture. The qualifier "most venomous" sputters and flops in many contexts.
Stonefish are not only ugly as sin in a St. Louis sewer; they are among the most reclusive and elusive creatures to be found anywhere on a reef or rocky substratum undersea. Yes, they can wear camo with the best of submarine lurkers. But they're not too hard to find. We have spotted dozens of them over the last 3 decades, at all kinds of depths; and not once has a stonefish lunged from its cubbyhole to attack, or even remotely threaten a human being.
They only project their chemical kill-shot at smaller fish when hungry, provoked or threatened. Therefore it's tough to say they're "the most venomous" anything -- when mathematical odds make it highly unlikely that any careful scuba diver or snorkeler will ever even meet one.
If this super-shy critter surges from his lair, for example, and injects spine venom directly into a nitwit human hand, or feels a nitwit human heel stepping on it during an ill-advised barefoot reef hike -- then yes that's all she wrote -- if an antivenin is not administered soon. But here's the rub: to be truly toxic, an underwater creature has to pose a reasonable likelihood that you'll even enter their "personal space."
And many species of jellyfish, one in particular, are dramatically more poisonous than a stonefish, and scores of times more likely to bump into you randomly while diving. More on that scary reality, later.
Let's digress a moment... the ubiquitous banded sea snake, with which we've dived and swum countless times over the years, all across the Pacific, has venom that can kill you in minutes; but a personality so mild 'n mellow, that we've seen beaucoup island kids in Fiji, New Caledonia, the Samoas, playing with them on dry land, even with their bare hands. If you don't squeeze these black-and-white striped snakes, or shake them suddenly, chances are high they'll never chomp you. Now that's not a chance I've ever been eager to take. However I've had those amiable li'l guys swim directly next to me -- even right under that most jealously guarded of "Guy Zones" -- and not once did I feel at all in danger from a reptile whose bite can kill far quicker than any cobra extant. The upshot is this: banded sea snakes are theoretically among the most venomous of maritime reptiles. Nothing more, nothing less. And that plus a couple bucks'll get you a cup o' hot coffee.
Ergo the mission-critical point is this: perhaps the most scientifically and statistically pertinent variable to be considered when ranking "the most toxic fish on planet earth" is whether or not you even stand a chance to swim within 5 meters of one. Or better yet -- whether or not the critter is aggressive by nature. NOT necessarily the ranked-on-paper molecular potency of some bad juju it packs in its poison...
For sobering example, take the diminutive and DEADLY irukandji -- perhaps the most feared critter on the Aussie Great Barrier Reef. Basically, the sting of one or two tiny irukandji jellyfish (size of a middling pea) can kill you twice as fast as anything that swims -- even the renowned blue-ringed octopus of the GBR, which lives abundantly in tide pools and coastal shallows up and down Australia's coastlines. Now many marine biologists will tell you the irukandji carries in its stingers the most potent marine toxin ever known to science. But it's not a vertebrate fish, it's a jelly. So a hair may be split here, though irukandji's have few available, as they're decidedly balder than cyanide-laced gummi bears.
Here's another fly in the ointment of maritime hyperbole: eating even a slimy slick from sushi prepped adjacent to the pierced liver of a common pufferfish (prized by adrenally challenged Japanese gourmands) will kill you faster than a stonefish the size of an NBA b-ball. Yet dear ol' Puffy is harmless as a puppy. I have seen divemasters gently bounce them on their palms like tennis balls in zero gravity. But the pufferfish does have a spine, ergo he IS a bona fide fishy fish. The tetrodotoxin of any adult Puff-meister seems a skosh less lethal to humans than stonefish venom, in a biochem sense, at least according to anecdotal case studies. But it will knock you down, and out, just as quick. So how will we ever really know which fish is worst, per scientific method?
Researchers are having a tough time finding volunteers for that study...
All this to conclude, fellow sunseekers, that we recommend it's best not to fling around labels like "the worst this" or "the most toxic that" without first providing a reasonable, conservative, non-hysterical context.
End of story.
Idiot cell phone junkies killed a baby dolphin on a beach -- passing it around for hours of selfies.
© Copyright 2015-2020, John Hessburg & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
If only we could show it. The photo is so sad, so terrible it rips at your soul like a claw hammer. I’m feeling ragged now... raw, amigos del mar. The pic is more than I can bear to post.
CNN and World Animal News reported this weekend that a milling mob of beachgoers in La Plata Argentina, about 50 km SE of Buenos Aires, snatched a rare dolphin from the ocean and passed it around for so long on the beach – while scores of people pushed and shoved to take “selfies” with the baby dolphin -- that it died right there in front of grown men, women and yes -- even children. Nobody did a thing to help the newborn critter.
La Vida Silvestre, a wildlife foundation in Argentina, confirmed this shameful report. What’s more, Sky News revealed another video of so-called humans removing a dolphin from the water in Santa Teresita, a coastal town about 350 km SE of Buenos Aires. Those folks took photos of a dolphin that appears to have been left to die in the sand; then they simply went on their ways, according to CNN. This proves that outbreaks of microcephaly in Latin America are not confined to mosquito-plagued sectors of Brazil, nor only to infants.
The Argentine wildlife organization urged people to return all dolphins to the sea, immediately, if they ever find one washed ashore. "It is vital that people help to rescue these animals, because every (one) counts," they wrote. The LaPlata breed is a sea mammal that normally shies away from humans. It thrives in the chilly waters of the Rio de La Plata, near Buenos Aires; and the Atlantic coasts between Argentina and Uruguay. It also sometimes cruises shorelines of SE Brazil. Now, back to basics...
What happened to that baby dolphin is murder by negligence. Pure and simple. These people are knuckle-draggers and deserve to be prosecuted. Class C felony charges for all the adults, all of them. A week in juvie for the youngsters. Their parents deserve this fitting penalty: picking up highway litter in the cold and driving rain all day, while wearing sandwich boards that read, “I'm an utter idiot. I killed a baby dolphin – for a selfie.”
Steaming shame on the parents for not teaching their children better compassion and concern for vulnerable life forms. These aquatic mammals, among the most intelligent and communicative on our planet, are fragile for the first several months of their lives and need to be in sea water all day long. Period.
As a matter of principle, never compromised in 25 years of service to thousands of tropical vacation clients, the agents of U.S. Dive Travel Network – a company I founded and still manage – never, I repeat never knowingly gave business to any resorts, anywhere, any time that offer “swim with dolphins” or “pet the dolphin” programs. Many of these so-called “cetacean research centers” are pure bull-feathers and geared only for profit, under the slippery veneer of "eco-tourism". Shameless commercial hype.
Dolphin-petting operations are abusers, exploitative hucksters. They disgust me for one key reason – in a mob, often people do things they'd never do alone, things that defy their innermost moral codes. Group-think can make normally thoughtful people act like witless wonders who cause serious harm to trusting creatures. And the worst of it is: the hapless dolphins never know what hit them. No, even worse: people profit from this thinly-lacquered "gray slavery."
I have free dived and scuba dived with countless wild and unconfined dolphins at islands across the Pacific since the early 1990s. Every time they swam up to me, out of the blue literally, and began cavorting like caffeinated kids -- of their own volition. One morning just a mile offshore from 'Eua iki, a small sister isle to Tongatapu, main island of Tonga, I was scuba diving with a young fisherman named Nonga Vea, maybe 65-70 feet down in clear current-free water, just tooling happily along the crater rim of a long-dead volcano, cruising huge beds of soft corals and colorful sponges, when suddenly we sensed odd movement and looked up. Now get this: ocean waves when viewed from below sometimes look like sculpted glass, impossibly smooth convex surfaces -- almost like cosmic blue jello scooped out by some enormous spoon. And there amid the royal-aqua jello bulges were five gray dolphins, showing off like stoned teenagers on a summer boardwalk, regaling us with an act right out of Cirque du Soleil. They danced around our bubble streams, darting in and out of the jello bumps, cleaving those astonishing blue scoops with their own bubbling "vapor trails" -- easily in bursts of 20 knots. We were so thrilled, we must have been breathing like race horses, because we drained 3,000 p.s.i. air tanks in half the normal time.
And here's the point, amigos del mar. We never bribed them with food or lures. They just showed up because they were curious; and they felt like it. Maybe we looked like fun to them. And never once did we try to grab or bump them. That's because never, as we counsel all clients whose trips we guide, have I reached and touched a dolphin, ray or shark with even a passing fingertip, unless that critter brushed past my shoulder when I turned the other way. That's darn near scripture in our sport, folks. We preach it with steel-eyed stares. Look but never touch. No exceptions any time.
Here’s the rub, literally. Dolphins have a delicate jelly-like oil on their skin, that when scraped or cut in waters rife with bacteria, can cause painful sores, or worse –- debilitating infections. Many sharks, rays, reef fish, squid and octopi are the same... They are at risk of getting infections that sometimes cripple or kill them over time.
So what kind of people would take such risks with a sentient, soul-bearing being -- and a baby yet -- just for the sake of a social media selfie? It beggars the imagination. This is the moral equivalent of ripping a newborn human from its mother's breast on day 3 of life, then passing that terrified hungry baby around, naked and crying, lashed by chilly winter winds in some parking lot outside. So why suddenly is this negligence acceptable when another specie, just as helpless, is involved? Have we as humans, prodded by the hollow vanity of cell-phones, devolved to such a point of emotional insentience that we're becoming spiritual cripples? Really?
I cannot comprehend how something this obvious, distress heaped on a small living creature did not pique at least some compassion in one human?! Not even one person? They let the infant dolphin die with no more regard than that afforded an insect crushed underfoot on a gum-flecked inner city sidewalk.
I know there will be e-mails, calls, letters. So what? Bring it, baby. I feel some selfie-addicts -- like these dolphin abusers -- are so self-centered they cannot see beyond the vanity of their own noses. Face it, folks; that dolphin pod from which the mouth-breathers stole that baby is far more human than those vapid biped perps. Now what?
Time to yammer, clamor, howl 'n shout, amigos del mar. OK, now smile, if you feel like slapping a few of these dimwits into the middle of next week. Then go ahead and do it; on this side of the law, however. Make it matter. Be uncommonly clever and relentless. Even cruel if need be. Make sure they remember you like that first tart smack on the cheek in the back seat at the junior prom.
Let’s e-nundate those two seaside communities in Argentina. Write respectful but molten letters to managers of that beach's lifeguard team, or to resort directors, whomever is in charge. Give 'em hell and don't let up. Make 'em think...
Right now my pulse is racing, the BP's soaring and I need to chill... It’s not often that anything related to the oceans I love so deeply, which have been my passion and my livelihood for more than a quarter century, can spur me to feel like actually socking someone squarely in the mouth. Forgive me Lord, because this planet is sicker than my own capacity to forgive -- at least for this evening. But tomorrow is another day….
© Copyright 2015-2020, John Hessburg & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
Mom always said you'll win a lot more butterflies with a spoonful of honey than a barrel of vinegar. Sure, but doesn’t vinegar taste much sweeter at the dispensing end, when served to a critic from Britain who uses colonialist logic to defend a muddled bit of grammar, while taking us to task for correcting her gaffe on American social media? See what you think; it’s a free country; and we're all rockin' in the Free World…
A while back on one of the Tarpit Social Media Forums that trap us all at some point, I noticed a gal – who BTW is a genuinely smart and gracious person -- had posted this question alongside a beautiful aerial photo of a tropical atoll: “So what exactly is the difference between an atoll, a fringing reef and a barrier reef?” As if possessed by the long-gone spirit of William Safire, immediately I felt my skin crawl and militant mites of ire burrowed under my fingernails… all from her careless use of a single word – between. Now this woman is no slouch. She’s an exec with a major multi-national firm. So here's the rub, the reason I took an extra half-hour break at noon...
You see, I love the English language so much, and often feel so despondent about the daily flogging it suffers at the hands of hurried yuppies -- dulled and dazed by the boozy bosom of the Internet -- that when grammar glitches like this arise, I’m prone to over-reacting. Then, fueled by lye and irony the lectures flow, tussles start and feathers fly. It’s such a dirty job – defending ol’ Mama English – but somebody’s got to do it.
So in a heartbeat I posted this riposte: “The word you need here is among. Not between. When using only two items in comparison or listing, proper grammar calls for the word between, while the word among works best with lists of three or more items.”
To which she re-posted in a blink: “Not quite. Between works fine in modern usage; just check your Oxford English Dictionary.” Well, the OED was spawned in the UK shortly after the Earth cooled; and this social medium we were using is quintessentially American and as hyper-modern as a one-terabyte thumb drive. So the matter quickly escalated.
“Au contraire, ma chère,” I chided, again defending the AP and New York Times rules. The battle was joined. Soon thereafter I received this thoughtfully worded note (one nice thing about our British friends, they've mastered the art of polite discourse when vexed...) My gadfly with the good soul wrote, “Thought I’d drop over a quick reply to your last comment on our post via email instead, since a debate on word choices and soup probably won’t interest our followers too much ;-) ... As the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states, ‘In all senses, between has been, from its earliest appearance, extended to more than two’" and "What’s the difference between soup, consommé, and broth?" or "What’s the difference among soup, consommé, and broth?"
"These questions have the same meaning," she argued, "but it’s better to use between and not among to talk about difference... Now here's another working example in a title written by Grammar Girl..... If you Google both phrases “What’s the difference between” and “What’s the difference among”, you’ll find more examples. The suggestion is that “between is only to be used for two items” is a more traditional view; perhaps it’s more upheld in American English than British English, or it’s just a case of traditional vs. modern language preference. Either way we’re still confident our word choice is valid. Have a great week, whatever words may come."
Gloves off, foils in hand, the fencing had begun – what fun!
And so I pressed on, “You seem to be a cheerful person, and decent too. It's refreshing to see other folks, rare as they are, who care about preservation of the Mother Tongue. Our poor dear Mama has been biffed and battered so wantonly by the Internet since the mid-1990s. So thank you for taking the time to contest this nuance further. However, as the Borg commander says in Star Trek, "Resistance is futile."
Sorry to report that your reasoning -- though elegant and elaborately construed -- is culturally skewed and flat-out wrong. Allow me show you why...
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) lists denotations and grammar elements that are traditionally specific to English speakers IN THE U.K. At no time in the last century of American journalism, has the OED been used as a top-tier grammar standard in USA publishing circles. Not by many credible publications. And I have been deeply embedded as a published professional in that culture since the mid-1970s -- for 40% of that timeframe, my friend.
Happy to report that most American publishers still care about, and assiduously cultivate sharply accurate grammar -- and have not yet been seduced, co-opted or lobotomized by the slovenly norms of the Worldwide Web. However, sadly we report that more and more each passing month, we see folks falling by the wayside -- among glib neo-hipster blogs for example, whose authors seldom research any queries further than Wikipedia. There's a weary kind of letting go, a shrug-the-shoulders-and-what-the-hell sort of giving in, to the new lazier standards of pseudo-grammar and pretzel syntax.
Still, the good news prevails... our hardcore corps still rules the world of American publishing. These are editors who will not budge nor fudge -- who always, always rely on the go-to Grammar Gospels. And they are not the OED, nor Websters Unabridged, nor the Scrabble Dictionary. America's Grammar Gospels are the AP Stylebook and the New York Times Stylebook. Period. Only these quasi-biblical stylebooks -- stark, streamlined and universally respected -- alongside the Columbia Journalism Review's withering and hyper-accurate grammar narcs. These are THE final authorities on any point of grammar extant -- certainly on this subcontinent. And just as certainly they are a quantum leap beyond the credibility of random web-based blatherskates such as, say what? -- “Grammar Girl!” Who the hell is she?
At this juncture, 240 years after 1776, conscientious American writers need not fret a fig over what our Brit friends have to say about these points of grammar. After all the Brits still call their trucks "lorries," their baby strollers "prams" and they answer "oh tickety-boo" when asked "How are you today?" If the British had their way, the word "lackadaisical" would mean "showing a shortage of funeral flowers." I blame the muddled colonialist progenitors of our language for the odd fact that, to this day a "fat chance" and a "slim chance" mean exactly the same thing. And, by Jove old chap, we still park our cars on the driveway, yet drive our cars along the parkway.
Back to the gnarly business at hand... American editors for a century have been in solid agreement that the only time between may be properly used, when referring to a list of 3 or more items, is in one narrowly-constrained instance -- when "one half" of two items being compared or contrasted is a list or a multi-part entity. Please check the quote below for a reasonable example. 'Fess up now, friend; your usage of between was NOT set up in that manner -- with the left hand holding one solo item and the right hand holding a tri-partite list. You simply used between to refer to a straight-up list of 3 items. So guess what...
That is incorrect grammar. End of story. Any bid to exonerate this is pure and simple balderdash. Poppycock. Claptrap. Flummery, twaddle or malarky (all Briticisms from the jolly olde UK.) Here is a summary of how this all shakes out among the consummate pros, the soldiers in the trenches who serve as grammar gurus for a sorely hounded publishing profession, here in the United Snakes of America, as our Euro critics sometimes label us...
The Associated Press Stylebook says, “The maxim that between introduces two items and among introduces more than two covers most questions about how to use these words; for example: The funds were divided among Ford, Carter and McCarthy. However, between is the correct word when expressing the relationships of three or more items considered one contiguous unit at a time, as in: Negotiations on a debate format are under way between the network and the Ford, Carter and McCarthy committees.”
Many people, though, just read that first part: “between introduces two items and among introduces more than two.”
This, from The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, is a bit clearer. “In general, between applies to two things, and among to more than two. But between is correct in reference to more than two when the items are related individually as well as severally -- as in: Trade between the United States, Canada and Mexico has grown under NAFTA. This holds because each country trades with each of the others, rather than with all of them simultaneously. When more than two things are related in a purely collective and vague way, always use among.”
And that is nearly all the time.
While I dispute your opinion, I am sincerely delighted to see that strong thinkers, who care about "the small stuff that's sorta big," still run a publication that I have admired and respected since its founding days, when I used to work closely as a contributor, and friend, of Messrs T and L. You folks run a superb publication, still the best in your field by a long shot, and it's an honor to duel with a gentlewoman who cares about the finer points of good clean grammar. Guess we all still love the same Mama just as much.
Now, since you good Brits are adept at rules of order, isn't it cricket after you receive a coup de grace while fencing, to doff your visor and simply say, "Touche' ?"
Jousting and jesting aside, I remain, tongue in cheek and thumb jammed firmly into the AP Stylebook as a marker...
Then lo, the next morning at the office this e-mail zipped in from the British Isles...
Thank you so much for taking the time to send over such an interesting and well-worded response to my email. It did indeed bring a smile to my face this morning!
Of course, as a Brit and English speaker/writer from the U.K, I’d naturally lean towards the guidance of our local British references than that of the AP Stylebook. I’d conclude from (your text) that in the discussion British English vs. American English, it’s just a matter of perspective and which side of The Pond one might sit upon.
That being said, I’m always keen to learn more about how we can use our language, and I’ve certainly learnt something new today -- so Touché ;)
To which I replied at lunch break...
Thank you for your gracious and sweet-spirited note. I am sure your colleagues find you fun to work with and laugh with.
Oh, there I go again. We Yanks love to fly in the face of tradition, thus we often finish sentences with prepositions -- cheeky rebel monkeys that we are. Though good British grammar dons at Oxford might lash us, saying, "This is something up with which we shall not put."
Just for fun, did a bit o' research today to verify, to the Nth degree, just how many folks speak English across the entire UK, as compared to the USA and Canada combined (since NorthAm web, TV and movie media have melded our two nations' vocabularies and speech inflections to nearly seamless congruence in recent years). With the comical exceptions of back-country Newfies in Canada and back-woods hicks in Mississippi USA.
As of noon EST-USA today, according to continuously updated UN computer systems, the UK has a total population of nearly 65 million, while the USA has 323 million, and Canada some 36 million souls. Ergo, the UK's 65 million only comprise a tad more than 15% of the world's primary-language English speakers, while North American speakers comprise nearly 85% of the English pie.
Now, since one of many virtues we most admire about our friends and allies in the UK is your love and respect for democracy -- and since democracy is rule of the majority -- it follows that it's both healthy and modern to have 85% of any language's primary speakers set the grammar rules that shape its current usage. Fair is fair, right?
Now I anticipate you'll soon set upon me with this fact: that several hundred million souls in former British colonies around the world -- especially India -- also speak proper English. To which I say, "No way, sistah." Have you listened recently? After years of enduring Bollywood productions, and Indian menu-speak from Assam to Bangalore, to hear that classic English is spoken all across India -- where Hindi, Urdu and Marathi are the main indigenous dialects -- is like hearing someone say a fine masala curry is the "ketchup of Southern India."
Though Yanks have captured and raptured the King's English, our urban populations still are smitten by the crisp, intelligent, mellifluous tones of a good Mid-Towne London accent.
Oh how the Yanks love listening to educated Brits.
In fact, as far as my experience holds in countless observations as a journalist and foreign traveler -- any sleek British accent will nearly always give you a firm leg up in a job interview, a cocktail party at the embassy or in a posh nightclub for young professionals -- anywhere from New York to San Fran, Vancouver to Toronto. Except in Quebec, where in the wrong bar it might earn you a righteous beating on a Saturday night, North Americans are suckers for a refined British accent. And our provincially innocent middle class immediately assumes a British accent -- Elizabethan, as in the Queen not Hurley -- confers superior intelligence upon the speaker.
With exceptions, of course -- ie. Mr. Bean or Tony Blair.
And so, the time draws nigh, my friend, and duty calls. I bid you a cheerful.... ta'.
You rock, good sistah. Best wishes for a stellar weekend, there across The Pond.
© Copyright John Hessburg & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
By Jack Larrison
© Copyright 2015-2019, Jack Larrison & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
You've come a long way, baby. Still I've got to say, "Caveat Emptor" all ye Carly-philes...
Though she's certainly a smart and stylish woman, don't follow her too closely, folks; you might get a migraine from this gal. Now, "the Federal Government can surely destroy the American Dream," she pontificates out on the trial-balloon-festooned campaign trail. So, do you mean "destroy" in the same way you obliterated the dreams of thousands at Hewlett-Packard, Ms. Fiorina?
Look, I love a good horse race, especially when there are candidates of character and grit and original glow on both sides. But Carly? Sure, she does have guts and even some intellectual charm... But way deep down, Miz Fiorina is all blow and no show; probably one of the worst tech CEOs of all time. During her 6-year stint as chief exec of H.P., their stock tanked and lost 50% of its value; while she laid off 30,000 workers. She was forced to resign and she wafted away into anonymity, where she found few political friends and little respite from fierce media fallout apres' the layoffs.
Later on, Ms Fiorina worked as a key advisor to John McCain's disastrous 2008 presidential bid. Yes, she is Stanford-educated, smart and alluring to some, but so what? So were wives of a couple Third World dictators...
In absolute sincerity, I believe America needs more good women in high office, to offset the huffing and puffing of all the gasbag males who've nearly run Washington DC into a cesspool of gridlock and rancor since the Great Recession. I would love to see another woman of substance (maybe Liz Warren or Tulsi Gabbard?) toss her hat into the ring and go toe-to-toe with the Dem's Wicked Witch of the East, as well as her nemeses -- the Blowhard Good Ol' Boys Network of the GOP. But let's get real for just a sec'.... Carly Fiorina is a failed CEO with virtually nothing new to offer. Zip, nada.
She's little more than a smarter more articulate reinvention of Sarah Palin, who's starting early -- running straight for Veep and catching the Republican Party's early media flak. Carly Fiorina is just another well-heeled huckster in heels and Prada, this time her sophistry and platitudes flowing from the dark side of the One Percent. Dark because it's hiding diabolically in plain sight, pretending to care...
Ergo, it'd be wise to invest your own energy and caring elsewhere, sunseekers. Maybe consider a write-in candidate like Donald.... (Duck). After reading daily news reports that favor one side or the other, I feel dazed by this gaggle of dunces the Right is trotting out, and by the ominous vacuum of challengers to Bellowing Billary on the Left. Ergo, I'm seriously thinking of Ol' Mr. Duck about now. Thus far, as a viable write-in option, The Donald seems to have a statistical edge... for a while.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
MOVING from CARLY to the U.S POLITICAL CLIMATE at LARGE:
Meanwhile, in a related political arena, just wondering, is our 2-party system really as doomed as it seems? Is this following verse the anthem of the New Dems (sans huevos to challenge Hillary) and also the prattling pariahs in this Vast New GOP Herd -- "Oh beautiful for specious guys, for somber waves of pain..." ?
When will we ever again see a truly serious and inspiring candidate who moves the heart and soul of America the way Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR and Reagan did? No matter whether Dem or Repub, a lawmaker is a leader, when he/she LEADS by example, courage, vision and sacrifice. Where, oh Lordy Mama, where are our leaders?
Now then, moving stiffly onward -- what's that, you might ask, what's that rank new aroma wafting off the Potomac these days? Here's the answer... Choosing Rep's and Sen's in post-modern America is now a matter of holding one's nose and deciding who is "least worst". This MUST be changed if our cherished democracy, the greatest experiment in egalitarian order of all time, is to survive. We do NOT need another Bush, another Clinton, another prep-school son or daughter of oligarchs to lead this great nation.
As my buddies in Argentina would say, we need a true "Caudillo" -- a charismatic truth-speaking leader who arises from the common ranks, bursting spontaneously onto the scene, propelled by the grit and agony of his or her own people. NOT propelled by billionaires terrified of taxes draining even a small part of their obscene fortunes, which they are so reluctant to share with the tax man. Does anybody really think Carly Fiorina (or Ted Cruz or Hillary Clinton) fit this bill of selfless Caudillo?? Really ??
First things first -- truth in advertising. We need to balance out and level off the reams of hot air billowing out of the Ultra-Progressive camp as well as the rock-ribbed Right Wing. That's what makes our democracy a free-for-all and a fascinating mess. The dignity and power of our system -- in this Post-Modern era -- always somehow seeps out of the malignant mashup of UltraLibs vs. NeoCons, pruning each other's excesses and vanity.
But do not let the media machines bought and sold by these oligarchs like Fiorina, nor the Bushes, the Clintons, the Kennedys, fool you for even one second. Re' Carly's old stomping ground, H.P., the tech industry tanked, in part, due to the same malevolent manipulations on Wall Street, by a very tightly-knit clique, that eventually brought our entire economy to the brink of ruin. I believe that Gnarly Carly was and IS a part of that semi-cynical cabal of aristocrats -- Dems and Repubs alike -- who believe that wealth entitles one to rule. And they will do anything to protect their turf, including manipulating markets, media and emotions.
Contrary to the classical NorthAm proto-fascists (Rockefeller, JP Morgan, Vanderbilt, Carnegie) who ushered in Manifest Destiny -- when pristine ecosystems and indigenous American innocence were steamrolled by the Industrial Revolution -- wealth for many of its nouveau holders only means more efficient, and less conscience-driven, greed. Gordon Gecko was wrong, sistah Carly. Greed is NOT good. Not good at all for the working majority. Only for the ultra-few, the Clique of Gated Souls.
Now, I must concede I do have dear friends and cherished clients, quite a few actually, who belong steadfastly to the One Percent. They simply can't help it. Their CPAs assure them this is true. But like most of us, I vet my friends with time and TLC. So they've all long ago passed the litmus test of sincere social conscience, community building and living for others rather than self. Or they would not be my friends. Some are progressive liberals who rally passionately behind gay marriage, Obama-care and total immigration amnesty. Others are ultra-conservatives who might applaud the 2nd Amendment and Rand Paul on Monday, then Tuesday write whopping big checks to Sierra Club, Wilderness Society and Greenpeace, then spend their Friday evening at a band boosters meetings in their kids' high school -- and not the racetrack or the opera.
Sadly, people of that conscience-driven ilk are an exponentially dwindling minority among the very wealthy. And whether they lead lives of altruism or not, most of them would no sooner vote for Carly Fiorina than for Humpty Dumpty. Let's just get real about that, please.
Ms. Fiorina was an also-ran before she even left the gate.
And frankly, polls and pols aside -- looking at basic human emotions -- most middle-Americans would not trust Carly Fiorina, or anyone like her, any further than they can frisbee a manhole cover. She is neither of their blood nor breed.
That does not make her a viper nor any clear and present danger to democracy -- only a stiletto-heeled symbol of what's wrong with the entire political system today.
While we're on the topic of political ciphers... What goes for Carly, also goes for Teddy Boy Cruz, who is little more than an early-in-the-campaign hitman, a dancing monkey funded by the right-wing backroom organ grinders (fund-raising czars who grind away in cable-company-ruled media at these organs mostly -- huevos, hearts and brains). Ted "Liver Lips" Cruz will have his time in the spotlight for a brief few months, at the vanguard of attack on the Dems, to soften up Hillary and her challengers, to galvanize the super-conservative base. Then once Cruz's temp job is done, and the media have beaten him senseless, and the party czars are through with him, they will toss him on the ash-heap of electoral history like all the other dancing monkeys -- from Ross Perot on the right, to Gene McCarthy on the left.
Remember amigos, contrary to the Manifest Destinarians ;) wealth does NOT morally entitle one to rule in a true democracy. Money only makes it much easier to buy influence and to broker hardcore deals -- compromises to shelter the very aristocracy upon which both parties depend entirely for their daily bread.
Bottom line: that means Carly Fiorina is no threat to Western Civilization, only a darling du jour in designer duds. And her rival Ted Cruz is a daffy demagogue who's so blithely unaware of how funny he sounds, that it makes for genuine rib-tickling entertainment. Mr. Cruz also has no more chance of being nominated by the GOP than Sponge Bob or PeeWee Herman.
So, where do we go from here?... Let's gather as a nation to find, draft and elect a man or woman of character, substance, integrity, passion and vision -- who truly cares about working families -- you know, the "fictional politician," the Gregory Peck / Atticus Finch kind of guy, who apparently has yet to be born.
El Caudillo Clasico...
Speaking of the dearth of which... British poet William Butler Yeats said it best about the future of Western leadership at large -- "And what rough beast / Its hour come round at last / Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"
And, like the wide-eyed kid in Poltergeist warns -- "They're heeere!"
Election time draws nearer by the day. Oh man...
CAVEAT EMPTOR, baby!
© Copyright Jack Larrison & The DICTION AERIE.™ All rights reserved.
© Copyright 2016-2018, Jack Larrison and The DICTION AERIE.™ All Rights Reserved.
Bloody hell, I hate them... I detest smart phones with a passion that is visceral and beyond. So much, in fact, that I've enjoyed a recurring dream of late that brings me to wakening, many mornings, with a glorious grin and a feeling of rested joy.
I'm at a party in some cavernous club, a noisy holiday bash, and suddenly a gorgeous young blonde -- she's tall, slim with perfect breasts, elegant cheek bones and alabaster skin, emerald green eyes and a bountiful she-horse pony tail that goes "fwap-fwap" across her shoulder blades as she runs -- bounds into view like an irresistible wood sprite, clad in a clinging forest-green unitard that leaves little to the imagination. She motions for me to follow her and scampers away, rounding corner after corner -- wham, swoop -- turning to make electrifying eye contact several times with a look that gives me butterflies. Then in a whoosh, I stumble after her and trip over some chair leg, landing on a huge foam pad in a dim room lit with pink and orange lamps. This wanton wood nymph slams the door shut and we're alone, prone on this foam and laughing like school kids who spiked the prom punch. Then we spring to our feet, smiling happily. She hands me a long-handled hoe, and grabs one for herself, and we begin swinging wildly at thousands of cell phones -- a staggering fortune in iPhones and Androids in jeweled cases -- stacked on tables and shelves anywhere we turn. We are utterly drunk with delight as we batter and smash millions upon millions of dollars in high-tech mobile phones that each emit a meaty satisfying sigh -- like a "tchoof!" -- when mortally wounded. (Okay, dream done. Back to irksome reality.)
Yes I do hate smart phones, especially when I need to pry them off the noses of humans, after exchanging only two sentences, when a conversation with full eye contact is necessary. So, to keep my business partners and best friends from melting down, I only use a smart phone when I'm on the road for work. Or heading to meet them. Therefore my hyperbolic outrage on this topic is barely warranted, and based only on a desire to alert my fellow Americans to a gathering infection that could cripple our Bill of Rights. Recent news accounts from Washington DC -- where the Obama Drama Queens are recommending we all just chuck the Fourth Amendment into a rubbish bin -- are raising serious hackles once again.
Our Lame-Ducky President Barack Hussein Obama is waddling into the thicket of civil liberties once more, and leaving his usual wake of ducky detritus, as he gnaws determinedly with ducky bill at the American Bill of Rights. But since "he's Da Man" and he's leaving office soon, his bevy of cuticle-chewing spin doctors is chilling now in Who-Gives-a-Rip Mode, utterly unworried whether he wanders wantonly from the platform his party promised us both times he ran for the highest elective office in the Free World.
"We need to find a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting the privacy, and liberty, of innocent Americans," Mr. Obama pontificated as a U.S. Senator in 2006, when he voted to nix Michael Hayden’s confirmation for CIA director. "As a nation we have to find the right balance between privacy and security, between executive authority to face threats and uncontrolled power. What protects us, and what distinguishes us, are the procedures we put in place to protect that balance, namely judicial warrants and congressional review.... These are concrete safeguards to make sure surveillance hasn’t gone too far."
During both his presidential campaigns Mr. Obama flapped eloquent gums, pledging to "strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and … harness the power of technology to hold government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy."
Now fast forward to March 11, 2016, when Mr. Obama argued passionately for mobile operating systems to allow security agents to gain access to any personal data -- any time they need it -- to prevent a terrorist attack or enforce tax laws. At the South by Southwest festival in Austin Texas, Mr. Obama refused to comment on the legal case now pending in which the FBI is pushing to force Apple Inc. to allow access to an iPhone linked to San Bernardino terrorist/gunman Rizwan Farook. But the Prez said his "commitment to Americans' right to privacy and civil liberties" was not absolute, because he believes "a balance was needed to allow some intrusion when needed."
What ho, me hearties? Could this be yet another freshly steaming heap of spin, custom-crafted for the evening news cycle? Balance? You mean bald-faced unlimited access to any mobile device, any time, anywhere in America -- is balance? Perhaps 7 years as U.S. president have so altered Mr. Obama's sense of equilibrium that he's not unlike the teeter-totter titan back in kindergarten, so massive that once he sits on his end you're marooned aloft, dangling up near the leafline until the fat kid jumps -- and you come crashing to the pavement.
This whole spin charade is like asking Mr. Obama, most powerful office-holder on the planet, a simple question, " Do you still after 7 years give a hoot about American civil liberties, sir?" -- to which he replies "now that's a definite maybe."
Hang it on your beak, Mr. President. You are daft, and we reject your dangerous idea entirely. For all time. Sure, we all want to protect our homeland from terrorists and organized crime, but let's not steer America closer to some New Nazi Ethic of Extreme Intrusion, in dubious exchange for a digital leg up on the bad guys, from ISIS to tax cheats to child-porn moguls. But your plan, Mr. Obama, lifts a dog leg on our U.S. Constitution. In short, what Apple is so wisely resisting – this “back door” to all cell phone OS code -- is too damn sweeping for any true democracy to sustain and still be faithful to its founding ideals of freedom, due process and individual privacy.
Let's harness those young tech minds you're so avidly courting, Mr. Obama, to find novel ways to zero in with deadly surgical precision -- just like you do with cruise missiles -- on the malevolent bastards who truly mean our country harm; without all of us surrendering to some sick Big Brother evil eye embedded in every doorjamb in our private homes, our offices, our churches and our nurseries. These are a few places our mobiles go every day, eh?!
Barack Hussein Obama's case is bogus, baloney, the yammering of a moral wimp; and only being released now because his 2nd term is hurtling to a close. It's like, "hey, I'm almost done with my 8 years; I've got a lifetime pension now suckers, so to hell with this nation I took an oath to protect and defend." This makes me sick to my soul to see. Such situation ethics are reminiscent of brown shirts and black flags. Not the red, white and blue.
So Mr. President, 'fess up -- have you been reading Prince Machiavelli and Vladimir Lenin lately or what? Ladies and gents of the electorate, take note. See through this sly strategy. Mr. Obama would not have dared release such un-American Orwellian prattle before his 2nd term, during the 2012 campaign when he was pretending to be a conscientious progressive. To cloak what his crony Mrs Clinton would likely agree to, to get her dirty work done for her as a parting lame-duck shot, the president is pushing for this Back Door Spy-on-Everybody software while the whole nation is distracted by some liver-lipped Manhattan madman with a frontier varmint pelt for a wig.
Can you imagine the gall? Mr. Obama chides us everyday citizens for caring so much about our cherished American right to privacy, for worrying about this sacred pillar of American life that distinguishes us from most of the government-infested planet. This so-called progressive prez is dismissing our concern as some foolish "fetish for your phone." Fetish? FETISH??
It's the U.S. Constitution we are talking about here, Mr. President. The bloody Bill of RIGHTS, not The Bill of Sorta Helpful Suggestions. These are foundational rights of the greatest democracy this world has ever known, flawed but noble and well worth protecting with a keen-eyed green-eyed jealously.
Google “Bill of Rights,” dear friends. Read the whole thing from start to finish. It's quick; go on... This is the bedrock document that anchored our great nation, the moral and constructive backbone of our entire way of life. Go on, READ IT! Here it is, word for word, our precious Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution...
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Dear ladies and gents of the Great Electorate, while primaries are still pending across the USA, start READING, pay attention folks! Democracy is the province of the involved. It's the meat of the day not casual dessert for spoon-fed pantywaists. Before you vote, before you commit to the most vital electoral / existential choice you may ever make, first check Hillary and Bernie, then check Trump and Cruz -- learn what they actually believe. Ask them, or their handlers...
Is it acceptable to give your government, to give the bodies elected to SERVE the people not enslave them, to give them permanent unbridled access to all personal mobile messages for all time? Do you truly want Big Brother listening in on anything you say, whenever they please? If you answer yes, then hop into Sherman’s Way-Back Machine, guys, and slither back to 1936 Berlin. Don't even bother to call your Congress reps.
What are you thinking, Mr. Obama? Since when did the 4th Amendment -- a cornerstone of our Bill of Rights -- become the moral equivalent of a handiwipe to you? How dare you even suggest this idea? You are more dangerous to our American way of life than any sand-lashed Shariah-worshiping fundamentalist. You seek to snare our cherished privacy in a giant steel cage, then douse it with the gas of Group Think, then burn it alive in full view of the brain-dead rabble.
Just wait until November, guys. The clock of what rock goddess Chrissie Hynde calls "Time the Avenger" is ticking away. Can you also hear the gathering roar, listen, there it is, just over the horizon? Oh yes, distinctly there, just put an ear to the good hard ground of your Homeland, folks...
Mark my words: come November 2016, it ain't “all heaven” about to bust loose across America, from sea to shining sea.
Editor's Note: Man. Now in retrospect, seems ol' Jack was a pre-cog. Eerie stuff...
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