Gerald (Jerry) Zezas

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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Oh The Karma, the Irony, the Opportunities to Say I Told You So…

Today, Reuters news service had a piece about an announcement by Walmart and Sams Club. They are downgrading their earnings projections because their customers aren’t spending as much due to federal cutbacks in food stamp assistance!

By Dhanya Skariachan

Jan 31 (Reuters) – Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Friday that bad weather and reduced food stamp benefits in the United States had dragged down comparable-store sales in the fiscal fourth quarter, more than offsetting a positive bump from the holiday season.

Yes fellow Libs, calm down. Stop the the fist pumps and yelling “I told you so you idiots” and similar exhortations. Be respectful…

Now, to my Repub readers…really guys, could you have made this any easier? Wal Mart, that bastion of conservative views, that anti-union, anti-female, anti-minority supreme soviet of capitalism, is proving that government assistance to the poor is good for the economy!

This is the company which pays its workers so little that some enormous proportion of them must collect food stamps just to eat, is now complaining because they’re losing money due to cutbacks in food stamps!

Hmm, could it be that government programs like food stamps and other forms of assistance for the poor is actually good for our good-ole capitalist, up by your bootstraps, Adam Smith/Milton Freedman/Ayn Rand based economy! Could it be that food stamps and unemployment checks go right back into the economy, generating wealth and jobs, as compared to tax cuts for the 1%, which tends to generate more off-shore bank accounts?

Could it be that every economic theory promulgated by the Repubs over the last 5 years (where’s the hyperinflation that was right around the corner, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sarah Palin?) was just intellectual insouciance backed up by, er, ah, nothing? Could all the Mitt Romney cognitive bluestockings have been wrong when they said that trillion-dollar economies were so simple as to be compared with our personal checking accounts (presumably they both needed to be balanced).

Could it be that the subject of economics is a just a little more complicated than this week’s featured short-skirted blonde Fox spokesmodel was sufficiently adroit to explain? (although Elisabeth Hasselbeck does have some decent legs).

25-Blondest-Women-of-Fox-News

Now, will you please just stop talking and listen to us when we tell you stuff? Jeez…
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Amanda Knox redux

Amanda Knox, the Seattle woman who was convicted, then acquitted of the murder of her British roommate, was once again convicted by an Italian court, yesterday, of that crime.

The question now is, once the conviction has been appealed, if the conviction is subsequently upheld, can she be extradited to Italy?

Amanda Knox is a US Citizen, living in the US, legally. She is protected by the Constitution as much as anyone. The Fifth Amendment to that Constitution reads:

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”.

The premise being bandied about by the media that she could be forced to return to Italy ignores the fact that no foreign powers can force their laws (or lack of same) on an American who is living in America. The fact that the Italians may allow “double-jeopardy” does not alter the fact that we, in the US, do not.

Irrespective whether you believe she murdered her roommate or not, she cannot be convicted of the same crime twice.

Now, Italian vacations are probably not a good idea, but, you get my point.

The Platitudes of Ignorance

I am constantly confronted by those who use their ignorance to bully me, sometimes saying such incredible things such as “alls I know is” and then proceeding to instruct me as to their simple-minded opinions regarding current events, political candidates or, at times, my own blog posts. For these people, reductiveness is a religion, which is interesting since religion is often the result reductiveness, but I digress…

For these individuals, irrespective the depth or intellectual heft of what they read, if it does not comport with their Disney Channel view of the world, they simply relegate it to the category of “bad things” and try to eliminate it by bullying me rather than actually thinking about the subject.

It is easier, for them, to react than to err…think. ┬áIt is easier for the simple-minded to clench their fists and rail against that with which they disagree than to, ahh, you know…think.

So You Think You’ve Got it All Figured Out

I have never met anyone as stupid as those for whom the world is a simple place. Those people who see patterns everywhere and, being no one’s fool, can tell immediately what is afoot, when no one else can. You know who I’m talking about. The conspiracy theorists who view every coincidence as proof of their higher level cognitive abilities (they see things that we don’t) and point to them as proof of whatever tidbit of imbecility they’re hawking this week.

You know, the Obama birthers, who think that the rest of us are too intellectually frivolous to see what is plain to them. The truthers (9/11 conspiracy nuts) who think George “Cowboy” Bush brought down the twin towers, as well as the moon landing doubters and their ilk. These people see the smallest of coincidences and assume that they are seeing patterns. They are among the most ignorant of us, because their ignorance manifests itself in theories so ludicrous as to be impossible to prove false. How can you prove that Obama’s birth certificate is not a fake, or that GW Bush did not enable 9/11, or that Nasa did not fake the moon landings. All you can do is show evidence to the contrary. You can’t prove a negative.

But, these self-appointed deep thinkers continue on, as confident in their imbecilic theories as a 5-year-old explaining to a 4-year-old why Santa is real.

The reason behind these empty and banal theories is the burning desire to not be seen as stupid or naive. The irony of which is, of course, that the act of trying not to be stupid or naive only serves to make one appear to be exactly that. It’s like that guy we all know. No matter what subject one brings up, he has had a more interesting experience than you. No matter how good or how bad your roller-coaster ride was, his was better/worse/higher/faster than yours. No matter how smart your kid is, his got better grades or more praise from a teacher. No matter how tough your boss is on you, you ain’t seen nothin’ until you’ve seen his boss. These are the people for whom being anything but on top of every possible outcome of every possible scenario is more critical than oxygen.

Carl Jung called what we view as coincidences,”Synchronicity” and wrote, regarding patterns and coincidences:
“Synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers”.

Our inclination to find connections and patterns in random data is what’s known in psychology as apophenia. So when we spot a coincidence, what’s really happening is that our brain is simply exercising its fundamental ability to identify patterns — something we can do even when there are none, statistically speaking. We, as humans, try to find coincidences as a way to explain a world that we have trouble explaining. We, (well some of us, anyway) need to reduce the world to our intellectual level, rather than try to educate ourselves enough to figure out its true meaning.

This is one of the reasons we have religion. When the world is too complex for us, we boil it down to something we can understand, like ribs that make women, boats filled with animals, and benevolent gods who threaten us with eternal damnation and hell-fire, while telling us how much they love us. This is the ultimate conspiracy theory-impossible to prove wrong, yet very easy and comforting to believe.

I’d rather spend my life in wonderment at just how complex the world is and enjoying my ignorance of it all, than make shit up just so I can win an argument in a sports bar.

In Search of Courage

This post is for a select and quite exclusive group of people, dear readers. Please don’t assume that I’m talking about all my readers. Those about whom I’m speaking will know who they are, I promise.

When someone like myself endeavors to corral original thoughts and reduce them to writing, there are always those who will disagree. Many of those are courageous enough to do so in kind-that is, to subject their own thoughts and comments to the same scrutiny and potential for violent disagreement as have I by disagreeing, right here in this forum. And then there are the cowards.

These I define as those who lurk in the background, never revealing themselves (but my logs tell me that you’re there. I know who you are and which posts you’ve read). These are the readers without the courage to post their own convictions, yet want me to explain mine. They call on the phone or send an occasional email telling me how insulted they are about a recent post. Yet they lack the simple understanding that the integrity of what they say is directly determined by the manner in which they say it. If you don’t have the balls to say it in public, I’m not interested in what you have to say! You don’t get to respond to my public comments in private!

Some of these philistines fear getting called out on the occasional mis-spelling, poor syntax or grade-school sentence structure which they are allowed when not subject to public scrutiny. They don’t have the confidence in their vocabulary to venture forth with their own missive counter-posing something I may have said with which they disagree. They make end runs around admitting that they read my blog and have something to say regarding one of my posts. They claim to have been “made aware” of one of my posts and want me to listen while they spew forth their ill-conceived “disagreement” with what I have to say. And when I explain that the purpose of my blog is to express MYSELF, not them, they offer the hastily contrived banality that I “can’t defend myself”. They miss the point completely, as well as missing the point about missing the point. They’re not smart enough to know what they’re not smart enough to know.

Like a stand-up comic or an actor on the stage, this is not a mutual admiration society. The stand-up comic does not ask you to come on stage and tell a couple of your own jokes. He tells you his. If you don’t like them, you should go home. If you have better ones, have the moral courage to audition and try to get on a stage yourself. Don’t lurk by his car in the parking lot and tell him how offended you were. He doesn’t care. Neither do I.

This blog, as with all blogs, is a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings about the world around me. Every time I post a blog, I gain numerous followers who want to be made aware of all my future posts.That says to me that what I have to say strikes a nerve with many. For that I am grateful. Yes, I am even grateful to the thoughtful, intelligent Repubs who can actually make a thoughtful argument! I welcome the challenge of a well-thought-out trashing of one of my comments.

So for those who disagree-have at it. Tear me up, trash my prose, point out the flaws in my arguments, list chapter and verse as to why I am an intellectual invalid, point out my mis-spellings with a hearty “nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah”. But do so were others can see what you’ve written, as I do. Have to courage to subject yourself to the ridicule of others, as I do.

Or, you can just continue to hide behind your sanctimony and feel safe in the knowledge that no one will ever know how cowardly you are. It will be our little secret…

Hillary Clinton is Not the One.

Much has been, and continues to be, said regarding Hillary Clinton’s presumptive run for President. The ostensible inevitability of her candidacy has made many speculate on her chances of winning the election, but not many seem invested in determining her qualifications-those are assumed. Those most assumptive of these qualifications tend to be Democrats. I take issue with that assumption.

Hillary is no trailblazer. She has not broken down any barriers. The fact that she was a political star when not many women were is not the result of her brilliance or accomplishments, but merely her talent at positioning herself. That is not to say that she is not an accomplished lawyer and brilliant politician. She certainly is. But to suggest that her experience automatically qualifies her to be President is to say that anyone who’s had numerous political jobs is also qualified.

No one clamored for her to become a Senator from New York. She moved there, opportunistically, for the sole purpose of launching her Presidential candidacy in 2008. And I liked her at first. I seriously considered voting for her in 2008, primarily because there were no other viable Democrats and the Republican field was rife with Bush apologists. But I was always uneasy with her. Then, Barack Obama came out of no-where. I, like the majority of Liberals, immediately jumped ship and latched on to the Obama campaign.

Hillary may have been a good first lady, Senator and Secretary of State, no one disputes any of that. Her problem is that she has no pathos. I see nothing behind the schoolmarm-ish admonitions that are so much a part of her rhetoric. She’s simultaneously pedantic and didactic. Barack Obama has been called professorial, but he’s actually been a college professor, so it’s easily forgiven. Hillary seems to be a pretender to the throne. She speaks, not in sentences, but in contrived profundities, as if she expects virtually everything she says to be etched in granite on a monument somewhere. Almost like George Bush, but with a better vocabulary.

She is also a bit of a hawk for my taste. There is no question that she voted in favor of the Iraq war, her attempts at historical revision notwithstanding. She tried to tip-toe around it in 2008 and might have been forgiven if there had been no better alternative on the Democratic ticket. If there had been no better alternative.

I see Hillary as not having struggled to get where she is, not having broken glass ceilings (as she has claimed) simply by running for President-she lost. I think she expects us to view her as something new and refreshing by simple virtue of the fact that she is female. Except that she is the ultimate insider politician. There is nothing new and refreshing about her. Nothing.

Now, regarding the question of having a female in the White House…I’m all for it. I believe that there are serious differences in how men and women view problems and solutions and I want to see the day when we give a woman the opportunity to do so. I believe that a woman may offer sufficiently different insights into our problems so as to lean, somewhat unfairly, toward voting for a woman over a man. Yes, I admit that I am more likely to vote for a qualified woman over an equally qualified man because its simply time that we find out for sure what influence it will have over American society.

But not Hillary. Why? Because Hillary does not display the characteristics that I usually assign to a woman in politics. She does not see the world from a different perspective than do the men around her. She does not embody those characteristics that we often, if sometimes unfairly, assume to be inherent in women. Characteristics like compassion, kindness, empathy and willingness to negotiate to the mutual satisfaction of parties, rather than win at all cost.

Yes, you may call this sexist, and to a great degree, it is. But if we’re going to have the first woman President anytime soon, there is no reason to have one who will be just like the male Presidents we’ve always had.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

Death by any other means…

There are some who like to suggest that death is simply another part of life-a passage to another realm of being. It is not to be feared, they say, since on the “other side”, there is Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana or a bunch of virgins. Those who literally whistle past the graveyard seem to neglect the fact that many of us die, not in peacefulness and tranquility, but in pain, both real and imagined; in fear; or sometimes in emotional agony and humiliation.

The four people who died in my family in the last 20 years or so died feeble, unable to take care of themselves, or with little dignity.

My father died of cancer, leaving us at half his normal body weight and laced with powerful drugs to help him avoid the agony his disease caused him. My grandmother died not remembering her name, Dementia having taken her memories and self-awareness. My mother died in severe pain, congestive heart failure causing enormous stress on her back and ribs. She, too, was drugged beyond recognition to help her pass comfortably.

Or was it to help her sons avoid the realities of her death?

Another, a terribly close friend, died violently on a train track in California, causing tremendous pain to his beautiful family.

This is to say nothing of those who are murdered, killed in car accidents, starved to death by poverty, stillborn or any of the other ways that people die.

If there is a God, why did he make the end of our lives so often the worst part? Why didn’t he make death like a cast party at the end of a successful play-a celebration of a life lived? Yeah, I know that’s what funerals are supposed to be for, but the deceased don’t get to participate in those, do they? They just sit in a box, decomposing, while we cry. And the whole Heaven thing, yeah, get back to me on that when you meet someone who can tell you about it.

We spend our lives struggling for money, power, love, acceptance and security. Yet regardless how much we achieve, we often die with none of it. Even those of us who die natural deaths often do so in a fetal position in a nursing home and are only discovered when the nurse comes in to change our diapers.

God’s plan? Really?

We are alive for as long as we can sustain ourselves, or as long as others decide we’re useful. Any belief otherwise is ignorant self-aggrandisement.

The only thing to live for is that those who come after have pleasant memories of us. They remember us for who we were and what we did.

My point? Don’t assume that death will come simply and easily. It likely won’t. There’s a really good chance that your last days will be miserable.

So don’t waste life. Do things that are unexpected. Take risks. Fail often. Those who come after you will judge you more on your courage to try than upon what you achieved.

If you want your life to have any meaning at all, that must be your gift to those who succeed you.

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