Sunday, April 29, 2012

Change, Change, Change

I don't know if this generation tracks and notes sun signs with the same avidity they did when Linda Goodman reigned over astrology, but some might be unsurprised to learn I am an Aries. On April 14, I observed a fairly momentous anniversary of my birth.

It was nowhere near as momentous, or even as auspicious, as the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, but was for me of sufficient substance as to give me pause to take stock of my life so far.

More than a week past the event, my serious consultations with myself have led me to conclude that at this late date there is no time for the wobblies.

Since I am now only testy, where I was once thought tasty, and  I am wild when I once was mild, and I am fearless when I was considered (by some) to be peerless, I see no reason not to press on....regardless.

What gave me a little pressing push this morning was a most excellent catalog of the sins of the Republicans as published in the Washington Post by Thomas E. Mann and Norman Ornstein. The following may not be a live link but it should take you there.

Here is the part that cuts to the chase: "The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, understanding and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

YES, indeed! They've got the bastards nailed to the utmost farthing!

What prompted me to blog after I read this story was a memory. 

I, a voluble and probably offensively insistent liberal, voted once  for George H. W. Bush and once for John Anderson. But things were different then, weren't they? I thought I was just voting against dopey Dukakis and stupid as a stick Reagan. I thought they were reasonable choices. Republicans then weren't identified as rabid, religion-crazy assholes.

Recently, I had occasion to look up John Anderson's biography. I really knew nothing about him in 1980 except that he was challenging two men I thought were weak. And the funny thing is, I learned that Anderson was an evangelical who, in his early years in the House, was hell bent on conforming Congress to fit his notion of a Christian body. Thankfully, his views altered considerably. And now, at 90, who remembers him?

But what was surprising to me was the fact that even if I knew he was an evangelical, it did not set off alarm bells. Religion was not then the dirty, narrow-minded, bigoted, insufferable state it is now.

One of the things I determined, as I did my recent inner consultation, was that I would spend the years left to me to work in the ways open to me to unseat the ignorant from any spheres of influence open to them.

I hope my friends will do the same.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Promise Her Anything...But Give her Zilch

Is Mitt Romney truly sending his wife out on a mission reminiscent of Noah's commissioning of a dove?

Turn her loose and she will find fertile female ground he can set sail to?

I don't think 2012 women will fast forget the anti-female health agenda he embarked on when he promised to get rid of Planned Parenthood and eponymous "Obama Care" just because his wife assures us he's a good man and will champion all of womanhood...... once he unseats that dreadful, awful, do-nothing, wasteful President Obama.

I understand that, like many women, Ann Romney has some medical problems that are reported to be serious.


Ann has never had to do without anything that was available to help her.

Ann has never had to worry that if she were to take advantage of these agents of help, her family might go hungry.

Ann has never had to do anything she didn't want to do or was forced by need to do.

Ann has had access to every luxury, convenience and necessity ever invented.

I am sure she is a lovely person. But, her understanding of women who never have had, nor ever will have, these same benefits, must, by dint of her easy, unquestioning access to them, be limited, or skewed, or non-existent. 

While I don't begrudge her anything, I don't want her to be a beacon or a barometer for women's aspirations or needs that her husband intends her to be.

When politicians begin their mewling about how the lame-stream media want to poison our minds and ignore their pristine family values and ethics and good works and, instead, spread lies just to make them look bad,  I am filled with skepticism born of experience.

You remember:  "Fool me once....can't get  fooled again."


Friday, April 6, 2012

Thoroughly Modern Meggie

John McCain's little girl, Meghan, has assumed the mantle of a moderate modern maiden whose claim to fame appears not to be  her father, but her "refreshingly" candid views of the political scene.

Sure, I love it when a Gopper sounds reasonable. Witness: Joe Scarborough taking on the right wing - and then cashing in on the approbation of the left wing for being so "fair-minded."

Machiavelli would approve your baby step, Joe.

Heaven knows the left and right are at a standoff at the OK corral of collegiality. And the hell of it is that conservatives have become so entrenched in their extreme positions that they cannot ameliorate them without appearing to decamp from what they consider their right to be right in their righteousness.

It is, therefore, always encouraging when someone on the right admits that all is not coming up roses in republican-land.

The following remarks are from Meghan McCain, who has apparently recovered from her boo boo on the Alex Wagner show where she misspoke, using "emoticon" for "modicum" during her on-air punditry. She writes in the Daily Beast that she finds little hope for her fellow Goppers:

"(1)   Santorum, who is a lunatic, right-wing fringe candidate that is hanging on to his candidacy for no other reason than, once this election cycle is over, he knows no one will ever listen to him again. I half expect Santorum to start throwing a tantrum on stage after he loses yet another primary and scream: “If I’m not going to be the nominee, no one is!”

(2)    Then, there is Newt Gingrich, the over-blown relic of the 90s, with so much baggage and anger that he really should move to a country where he can be dictator."

Good going, Meggie! I couldn't have nailed it better.

You could believe that maybe here is one infant conservative who'll grow up to be an fully functioning, contributing and reasonable member of society.

Until we come to this: 

"(3)    Finally, there’s my boy Mitt—whom, yes, I support and no matter what, will vote for  him.....but as his wife says, he has to unzip"

No matter what?

No matter than he plans to defund Planned Parenthood? No matter that he has embraced every side of every issue - sometimes within the same week? No matter that he has proved to be unpatriotic....sending his money offshore to avoid taxes? No matter that he has no character? You think all he has to do is unzip? Unzip what? His head?  His mouth? His trousers? 

Where does he keep his ethics?

Come on, Meghan; put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion. If you are going to try for believability, you gotta go whole hog.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Gold Rush Redux

Gold, mesmerizing the world with its current antic flight, has, since its prehistoric discovery, had its ups and downs. This may be its highest and headiest high because of modern communication and because world trade has interwoven nearly  all countries into a single web.

Touch a portion of that web, and the world vibrates.

The Latin name for the element rocking the world is aurum, and it is accorded a place in the official list of earth elements by the abbreviation AU.

The dictionary ascribes to it two meanings: 1. Heavy yellow, metallic, highly malleable chemical element; 2. Money, wealth.

One of the heaviest elements, gold is given the atomic number 79 and has an atomic weight of about 197. It is measured by troy ounces...12 of which make one pound. For an approximate estimate of how much a troy ounce weighs, heft 20 pennies.

A quart of gold weighs 65 lbs.

Gold is mined and  it is collected in stream beds. It ranges in size from dust-like particles to one discovered in Australia that weighed 150 lbs. The monster was appropriately named "Welcome Stranger".

Gold is found in sea water. Its quantity is so small compared with the amount of sea water that exists that no feasible way to separate it has been discovered. However, it has been estimated that if a way were devised, it could yield 10 billion tons. Considerably more than exists today.

No one is sure how much gold has been produced by man but it is believed that since 1492 to the end of 1956 the world produced approximately 1,946,000,000 oz. If you could mass it all together it would make a cube the size of a school gymnasium.

More than half the world's gold (not counting gold used in jewelry,  industry, dentistry, objets d'art - and that consumed by those who buy liqueurs and cakes decorated with gold flakes, and the gold leaf that for years identified the occupants of countless shops and offices), is in the U.S. Treasury.

Russia, along with South Africa, Canada, Australia, Ghana and the United States, is one of the top gold producing nations. Yet she owns very little. West Germany is the second largest gold possessor, then France, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan and Britain.

The application of gold leaf is an art with roots in antiquity. Ancient Egyptians could hammer gold into leaves so thin that it took 367,000 to make a pile an inch high.

To flatten gold, it is placed between a goldbeater's skin - a tough membrane prepared from the  intestines of cattle. Gold used for this purpose is 23 carats fine. Up until a few years ago, it was possible to buy a sheet of gift wrapping paper covered with gold and costing about 25 cents. 

Hammered, one ounce of gold can almost cover 100 square feet.

For centuries man has been monkeying around with less glamorous elements in an attempt to turn them into gold. This kind of sorcery, called alchemy, appears to have been achieved. The New York Times reports that:

 "Lead can be turned into gold. In experimental physics, it has been possible to produce minute quantities of gold through particle bombardment in a particle accelerator, or 'atom smasher,' American experts confirm.

"Price is another thing. You're talking about a cost of anywhere between $1,000 and $1 million a gram - there are 30 grams to an ounce)."

Oh, well - give them time. Look how expensive TV sets used to be.


This piece is recycled. I wrote it 32 years ago. I was reminded of it when I read a story about the current rush to revive gold panning in view of the prediction that gold is now expected by some to reach $6,000 an oz.