5Jul

Web Watching, Gunpowder Snorting, the NRA, and Eye Color and Alcohol Addiction

In the tune “Tower of Song,” Leonard Cohen suggests that the rich are watching us, that they have their channels in bedrooms of the poor, and the Boomtown Rats knew “they” were always looking at you. I’ve been shopping for headphones, headphones, as valuable to a disc jockey as a hammer is to a carpenter. Once I get used to a certain set of headphones, I tend to wear them at least until the foam wears thin, and the time has come to replace them, so I went shopping online. Now everywhere I go—Facebook, my own website, etc.—there are ads for what? Headphones! All I can think of is they are watching me. The watchers are everywhere.

The effects on the brain of snorting gunpowder are yet to be determined. Some reports indicate that people have seen images of Ted Nugent chased by wolves, and some say they have seen Sarah Palin wearing a bullet called FMJ, or Full Metal Jacket, and yes, that is a real bullet. Apparently Sarah wears the bullets as pasties, especially when she is on her way to the Willard, the Hotel, that is, on Pennsylvania Avenue, just down the road from the White House. According to Sarah, she can see Russia from there. Yeah, the rednecks and the NRA and some Republicans snort that stuff—gunpowder, dude—the new high of the lowest. All this may simply be conjecture on my part—or not.

Speaking of the NRA, Yahoo News just blew the lid off a scandal that might spell serious trouble for that association. It seems the NRA has been illegally funneling money from contributors to their political action committee, the NRA Political Victory Fund. The problem with that is the NRA accepts contributions from people for a lot of reasons, including gun safety training and education, which have nothing to do with politics.  By shifting this money to their PAC, which uses it to donate to Republican campaigns across the country, they’re choosing candidates for people by way of donations, which is not only unethical but illegal.

A study by geneticists at the University of Vermont revealed a link between eye color and alcohol dependency, suggesting it occurs more frequently among people with blue eyes and less frequently among those with dark brown eyes. The study, which offers evidence that alcohol dependency has a genetic component, involved a sample of 1,263 individual genetic profiles pulled from a database of people diagnosed with at least one psychiatric illness, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, addiction, and alcohol or drug dependence. To echo an old Crystal Gayle song, that really makes my brown eyes blue.

There are more random thoughts just a player click away in the podcast, which is often very different from the blog. Join me there, on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

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28Jun

One Tiny Fish and the Confederate Flag

It seems no matter how much I try to keep my blogs and podcasts light and easy, life at times insists I make them heavy duty.

I am watching a small blue fish less than two inches long struggle for breath. “Blue Boy,” as I have come to call him, had survived an injured tail fin from a previous mishap. Now I watch him flipping that broken fin, struggling to move. To a fish, movement is life, and I feel the same way. If I ever stop moving, I will die. 

I have witnessed this struggle before in the small water world that I am god over. This little environment needs me to keep it ecologically safe and the lives that dwell there alive. They depend on me, and when something goes wrong, it is my failure. They didn’t screw it up, their lord—I—did. Unlike us humans, they don’t have a choice.

As I watch this small life fading, Chloe Cat comes to my feet and meows. It’s dinner time, and she needs clean water, fresh food, a warm place to sleep, and lots of love. Chloe, like my past furry four-legged friends, will only be in my world for a short time, and ours is the only world she knows. It is absolutely unconditional that I make her precious life as safe and happy as I can. I wonder why we can’t always feel the same about our fellow human travelers in this short life span we are given.

I spent a lot of time in battles today I knew I couldn’t win. I have a god-awful habit of doing that. I’m still swinging at windmills and trying to send fast balls into the bleachers.  As I watched, a small fish struggled for air, took one last breath, one fin still attempting to swim, then he died. I wondered why I spent such intellectual capital fighting that battle. Someday I’ll struggle for my own last breath.

My family dates so far back into southern ancestry and aristocracy that if you do a search of the name Sanders during the Civil War, you’ll find the books and bloody ground are littered with it, and yes, it is part of my blood line. I was born in Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. My dad was from South Carolina, and my mom, a Cherokee, was born in the mountains of Tennessee and oppressed just as much as African-Americans. I have no love of my long line of southern history, deservedly blown to hell in the Civil War. I feel no sense of loss on the removal of the Confederate flag. Family members on my dad’s side, the privileged, tried to maintain a life based on oppressing and murdering other human beings, but I did not adopt their standards. The Confederate flag is a shameful rag and nothing more.

There are more thoughts on this subject and other things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Join me there.

 

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21Jun

Memories, Monsanto, Hair, and the Pachuko Hop

Sometime around 1973, I found myself sitting in a restaurant in Washington, DC, more precisely a health food restaurant called Food For Thought. I was listening to the song “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel (1970 # 4 hit) and falling in love with the waitress as she moved to the beat up and down the aisle. For however long it took me to eat a banana, walnut, apple, yogurt, and granola salad, with honey, of course, I was in love. I never got to know the waitress’s name, but for 42 years she has danced up and down the aisle of my memory just as she did on that wooden floor in a place called Food For Thought, and she forever will be remembered as Cecilia. That was a great afternoon, and it was all real, especially the food.

Monsanto has its claws down my throat as they sue the state of Vermont. With Governor Peter Shumlin's signature, Vermont became the first state in the country to require foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to carry a label. The effective date is July 1, 2016, but whether it goes into effect depends on defeating legal and constitutional challenges, and there are many challenges by Monsanto. Currently, 29 states have bills in the works, with Oregon gearing up for a GMO-labeling initiative that will appear on the ballot this November, and Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association keep on suing. While there has been speculation Starbucks was part of this suit, the company has stated those allegations are completely false.

Donald Trump has thrown his wiggy-ness into the presidential race, and it’s not the first time wigs have been involved. Back In 1834, political opponents of President Andrew Jackson organized a new party to contest his Democrats nationally and in the states. Guided by their most prominent leader, Henry Clay, they called themselves Whigs (nothing to do with wigs, by the way) and disparagingly referred to Andrew Jackson as King Andrew. The Whigs were immediately laughed at by Jacksonian Democrats as a party devoted to the interests of wealth and aristocracy, but they won the presidential elections in 1840 and 1848. However, by 1852, the popular issue of the day was slavery, and the Whigs fell out of favor.  The “cotton” Whigs moved to the Democratic Party, and the “conscience” Whigs formed the new Republican Party.

 Rock History:  On June 2, 1956, in Santa Cruz, California, there was a dance party, and 200 teenagers packed the Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium on that Saturday night to dance to the music of Chuck Higgins and his orchestra, a Los Angeles group with a regional hit record called “Pachuko Hop” (catch this rocker on YouTube).  The Santa Cruz police entered the auditorium just past midnight, and according to Lieutenant Richard Overton, found the crowd dancing suggestively, presumably triggered by the “provocative rhythms of an all-Negro band,” and shut down the dance. The next day, June 3, 1956, the city authorities announced a total ban on rock and roll at public gatherings, calling the music “detrimental to both the health and morals of our youth and community.”

There’s more on “Pachuko Hop” and Chuck Higgins, morality, lack of morality, music, and other wigged-out things on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Come on in.

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