9.16.2022 – but the truth that

but the truth that
nobody knows does nothing
to settle debate

In an article about the US and World economy, Mr. Paul Krugman used some very interesting words when discussing the ecomony.

Mr. Krugman, according to his short bio, joined The New York Times in 2000 as an Op-Ed columnist. He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York. In addition, he is professor emeritus at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

He is, all at the same time, a distinguished professor and a distinguished scholar as well as a professor emeritus which should be good enough for anyone.

Mr. Krugman’s latest observations appear in the NYT Opinion piece, Who’s Afraid of the Consumer Price Index?

Like any good opinion piece on economics, Mr. Krugman uses all the standard terms like inflation expectations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumer prices, alternative formulation, immaculate disinflation, significant cooling off, job vacancies, higher unemployment and the ever popular, temporary phenomenon.

Entirely appropriate and expected use of language.

But unexpectedly Mr. Krugman also uses the terms If you still believed, I guess and But the truth is.

If you still believed.

I guess

But the truth is.

NOW that is a gutty enconomist.

Mr. Krugman wraps up his piece with this paragraph:

But the truth is that nobody knows for sure, and the fact that a hot economy is still producing heated inflation does nothing to settle the debate.

Mr. Krugman wraps up his piece with these paragraphs:

The good news, sort of, is that the Fed seems to know what it doesn’t know. It’s talking tough on inflation, as it must to retain credibility, but it’s also talking about looking at the “totality of the incoming data,” which means that it’s prepared to ease off if and when inflation is clearly coming down.

My guess is that this moment will come sooner than many think. But we’ll just have to wait and see.

But we’ll just have to wait and see.

But we’ll just have to wait and see?

I would like to refer Mr. Krugman to Chance the Gardener in the old movie, Being There.

Mr. Gardener said: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.”

In the movie, the President listens to this and says, “I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.”

BTW, the movie Being There was released in 1979.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

9.11.2022 – suppose there always

suppose there always
gonna be April 7
it just hid there like

In the 1991 book, Rivethead : tales from the assembly line, by Ben Hamper, (New York, NY : Warner Books 1991), a book about life and work an the GM assembly line Flint, Michigan, the author tells the story of the day he suffered a mental and physical breakdown on the job.

Mr. Hamper wrote: “I suppose there was always gonna be an April 7, 1988. It just hid there like a heartless sniper behind the diesel haze and the minute hand. It knew my name. It knew my brain. It could smell fear a mile away. Its aim was true.”

Crossing the Rubican.

At the crossroads.

Day of Decision.

Days that stand out.

April 7 was that day for Mr. Hamper much like September 11 is that day for this country and maybe, much of the world.

Not much of a stretch to write, I suppose there was always gonna be an September 11, 2001.

It just hid there like a heartless sniper behind the diesel haze and the minute hand.

It knew our name.

It knew our brain.

It could smell fear a mile away.

Its aim was true.

Waiting now for life to return to normal after covid but it is hard to return to normal when normal isn’t there anymore.

A lot of normal went away on September 12th.

9.8.2022 – because girl like me

because girl like me
never supposed to be there
place for everyone

Adapted from the remarks made by Former First Lady Michelle Obama at the unveiling of Official Obama White House Portraits on September 7, 2022.

In part, Ms. Obama said:

Oh, believe it or not, it is still a bit odd for me to stand in this historic space, see this big, beautiful painting staring back at me. Growing up on Euclid Avenue, Mommy, I never could have imagined that any of this would be part of my story.

But even if it’s all still a bit awkward for me, I do recognize why moments like these are important, why all of this is absolutely necessary. Traditions like this matter not just for those of us who hold these positions, but for everyone participating in and watching our democracy.

You see, the people — they make their voices heard with their vote. We hold an inauguration to ensure a peaceful transition of power. Those of us lucky enough to serve work, as Barack said, as hard as we can for as long as we can, as long as the people choose to keep us here. And once our time is up, we move on.

And all that remains in this hallowed place are our good efforts and these portraits — portraits that connect our history to the present day, portraits that hang here as history continues to be made.

So, for me, this day is not just about what has happened. It’s also about what could happen.

Because a girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kenne- — Kennedy and Dolley Madison. She was never supposed to live in this house, and she definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as First Lady.

But I’ve always wondered: Where does that “supposed to” come from? Who determines it?

And too often in this country, people feel like they have to look a certain way or act a certain way to fit in, that they have to make a lot of money or come from a certain group or class or faith in order to matter.

But what we’re looking at today — a portrait of a biracial kid with an unusual name and the daughter of a water pump operator and a stay-at-home mom — what we are seeing is a reminder that there’s a place for everyone in this country.

Because as Barack said, if the two of us can end up on the walls of the most famous address in the world, then, again, it is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can, too.

That is what this country is about. It’s not about blood or pedigree or wealth. It’s a place where everyone should have a fair shot, whether you’re a kid taking two buses and a train just to get to school; or a single mother who is working two jobs to put some food on the table; or an immigrant just arriving, getting your first apartment, forging a future for yourself in a place you dreamed of.

That’s why, for me, this day isn’t about me or Barack. It’s not even about these beautiful paintings. It’s about telling that fuller story — a story that includes every single American in every single corner of this country so that our kids and grandkids can see something more for themselves.

And as much as some folks might want us to believe that that story has lost some of its shine, that division and discrimination and everything else might have dimmed its light, I still know deep in my heart that what we share — as my husband continues to say — is so much bigger than what we don’t. Our democracy is so much stronger than our differences.

And this little girl from the South Side is blessed beyond measure to have felt the truth of that fuller story throughout her entire life, never more so than today.

So, thank you to President Biden, to Sharon, and to all of you today for playing a part in this day and all the days that led to it.

She was never supposed to live in this house, and she definitely wasn’t supposed to serve as First Lady.

But I have also always wondered: Where does that “supposed to” come from?

Who determines it?

It is so important for every young kid who is doubting themselves to believe that they can do anything.

That is what made America great.

This is what makes America great.

No shouting.

No bluster.

No threats.

A quiet voice.

A quiet voice that says, That is what this country is about. It’s not about blood or pedigree or wealth. It’s a place where everyone should have a fair shot, whether you’re a kid taking two buses and a train just to get to school; or a single mother who is working two jobs to put some food on the table; or an immigrant just arriving, getting your first apartment, forging a future for yourself in a place you dreamed of.

We talk a lot about what the ‘Founding Fathers’ meant when they set up this Country.

What they meant with words like ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

What they meant with words like ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union.’

I want to say that if those guys, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin et al, were in the room and they listened to Michelle Obama, they would have looked at each and nodded and said, THAT’S IT!

8.30.2022 – habit of weighing

habit of weighing
past against social moral
trends of the present

The End of History was supposed to have happened back in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama announced the conclusive triumph of liberal democracy. We know how that thesis worked out. But what happens when the other kind of History — academic, not Hegelian — starts to collapse?

That’s a question that James H. Sweet, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the president of the American Historical Association, tried to raise earlier this month in a column titled “Is History History?” for the organization’s newsmagazine. It didn’t go well.

Sweet’s core concern in the piece, which was subtitled “Identity Politics and Teleologies of the Present,” was about the “trend toward presentism” — the habit of weighing the past against the social concerns and moral categories of the present.

“This new history,” he wrote, “often ignores the values and mores of people in their own times, as well as change over time, neutralizing the expertise that separates historians from those in other disciplines.”

Adapted from This Is the Other Way That History Ends, an opinion piece in the New York Times by BRET STEPHENS.

Way back when I was studying history at the University of Michigan my Professors stressed three things.

  1. YOU ARE THE EXPERT – Take you readers by the hand as they don’t know what you know and they certainly don’t know where you are going.
  2. COMPASSION – Don’t be so quick to judge until you get ALL your facts.
  3. AT ALL COSTS, AVOID PRESENT MINDEDNESS – You cannot make assumptions, conclusions or judgements based on today’s values against yesterday.

Somehow I think I was lucky to have been in school back then and not today.

8.29.2022 – hopelessness is the

hopelessness is the
enemy of justice – is
a constant struggle

I was born on July 17, 1960.

One month later, unknown to me and unrelated to this event, 11 kids went wading in the Atlantic Ocean at the public beach on Tybee Island on the east coast near Savannah, Georgia.

All 11 kids were arrested.

They were officially charged with Public Disrobing.

The real reason is that the public beaches in Georgia in 1960 were segregated.

And these 11 kids were not ‘allowed’ to use the public beach because they were not white.

1960.

Stars of the show, from left, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, who participated as high-school students in the historic 1960’s wade-ins. Ben Goggins / For Savannah Morning News

Three of these students, Edna Jackson, Evalena Hoskins, and Mary Gray, were there that day in 1960 and were back on the same beach, the same beach I have been with my children and grand children.

I now know about that day because the State of Georgia just dedicated a historical marker to remember that day and what those 11 kids did.

At the dedication ceremony, Tybee Island Historical Association Vice-President Allen Lewis said, “These students were ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

These students were ordinary people.

Ordinary people who did extraordinary things.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Extraordinary things.

Mr. Lewis also said, “They put their beliefs to the test on Savannah Beach. That God has the divine power, and that the U.S. Constitution was on their side as they fought injustice and evil.”

Faced with racial terror, the students responded to hate with love. To violence, with forgiveness. We remember these students for their hope. Hopelessness is the enemy of justice. Their courage. Because peace requires bravery. Their persistence. Because justice is a constant struggle. And their faith.”

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Arlo Guthrie once said something along the lines that in a world where everything is going great, you would have to do an awful lot of good to standout, but in a world that sucks, you don’t have to do much to accomplish something good.

They went for a swim on an August day at the beach.

Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Respond to hate with love.

To violence, with forgiveness.

Because peace requires bravery.

Because justice is a constant struggle.

8.16.2022 – life in low country

life in low country
alligator attacks rare
but not surprising

The body of an 88-year-old woman who was killed by an alligator was discovered on Monday in a pond in a gated community near Hilton Head Island, S.C., officials said. It was at least the fourth deadly alligator attack in the United States so far this year.

The Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call at 11:15 a.m. on Monday from a Sun City Hilton Head resident who reported that a large alligator was guarding a human body. “When we got there that’s exactly what we found,” said Maj. Angela Viens, a public information officer with the Beaufort County sheriff’s office.

“Alligator attacks are rare but not surprising,” Major Viens said of the area.

Two more alligator deaths have been recorded this year in Florida. One a 47-year old man apparently searching for a frisbee on May 31 and another an elderly woman, 80, who fell into a pond near a golf course on July 15.

47-year-old Sean Thomas McGuinness’ body was found missing three limbs at the lake at the John S Taylor Park in Largo, Florida.

Investigators now believe he had gone into the 53-acre freshwater lake looking for UFOs when he was attacked.

I am not sure if the alligator attack and the search for UFO’s are connected.

Advice for living near alligators is to:

Never swim at night –

Never feed them –

Keep pets and children away from the water’s edge –

Stay alert when you are in territory where they may live –

I took this photo in a local park last year.

Like the Great White Shark, all they do is sleep, eat and make little alligators.

You get used to it.

Earlier this summer, my wife was up in Michigan visiting.

Seeing the new home of one her sisters and that the property had a large pond, my wife cautioned, “make sure you watch out for alligators!”

It comes with the territory.

As Mr. Tolkien wrote: ‘It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.’

7.13.2022 – pick and choose numbers

pick and choose numbers
that tell you what you want and
glue them together

Adapted from the last paragraph of the article, The Humbug Economy, by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

Writing about the current economic climate, Mr. Krugamn stated:

Overall, the picture appears consistent with a “soft landing” — a slowdown that falls short of a full-on recession, or involves a mild recession at worst, together with stabilizing inflation.

But, of course, we don’t know that. In fact, given the wide discrepancies in economic data, economic pundits (including me) have unusual freedom to believe whatever they want to believe. Just pick and choose the numbers that tell you what you want to hear and glue them together.

He also stated:

Are you confused? You should be. I’ve been in this business a long time, and I can’t remember any period when economic numbers were telling such different stories. On the other hand, we’ve never before faced the kind of shocks we’ve gone through in the past few years: Both the pandemic-induced recession and the recovery from that recession were, to use the technical term, weird, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised the measures we normally use to track the economy aren’t working too well.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Both the pandemic-induced recession and the recovery from that recession were, to use the technical term, weird, and maybe we shouldn’t be surprised the measures we normally use to track the economy aren’t working too well.

Got to love the use of the technical term, weird!

And the warning that we shouldn’t be surprised the measures we normally use to track the economy aren’t working too well?

NO KIDDING!

7.4.2022 – something more abstract

something more abstract
more compelling – America
lost faith in itself

Adapted from the book, Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream (Copyright © 1976, 1991) by Doris Kearns Goodwin and a passage dealing with the USA after the Kennedy assassination.

Ms. Goodwin writes that in November, 1963;

The people of America responded to the news of Kennedy’s assassination and the continuing televised reports of every subsequent happening with a state of shock that went beyond mourning to something approaching melancholia, a serious collapse of self-esteem. With the assassination, something more than a man had been lost, something more abstract and more compelling – a part of America’s faith in itself as a good society.

The line, something more than a man had been lost, something more abstract and more compelling – a part of America’s faith in itself as a good society, hit me.

America’s faith in itself as a good society.

I admit much of that faith was a hypocrisy.

But it was a useful hypocrisy.

Recent political turmoil over, well, politics and Covid and any number of other issues of late have ripped the scab off the hypocrisy and left folks, not wondering if we have lost a part of America’s faith in itself as a good society but now QUESTIONING even if America was, is or can be, a good society.

I like to think that Mr. Lincoln was right when he said the United States was, “… the last best hope of earth.”

Maybe Mr. Lincoln is right, its just that the bar to being recognized as the last best hope of earth was a lot lower than I ever thought.

Again, the passage quoted from Ms. Godwin is about the United States after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Lyndon Johnson took over as President.

5 Days after Kennedy was murdered, LBJ spoke to Congress and the Country.

LBJ said this:

America must move forward.

The time has come for Americans of all races and creeds and political beliefs to understand and to respect one another.

So let us put an end to the teaching and the preaching of hate and evil and violence.

Let us turn away from the fanatics of the far left and the far right, from the apostles of bitterness and bigotry, from those defiant of law, and those who pour venom into our Nation’s bloodstream.

As Mr. Lincoln put it in his December, 1862 Annual Address to Congress, “We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

The Fourth of July, 1916 (The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May) by Childe Hassam (1859-1935)

7.2.2022 – laughter, singing rang

laughter, singing rang
again, all the sounds of the
earth were like music

Adapted from James Thurber’s Further Fable, “The Bears and the Monkeys.”

I have used this fable of Mr. Thurber’s before.

I will most likely use again and if I don’t use it again, I will read it again and most likely often.

The fable is an analogy on the red scare of the McCarthy era when folks were afraid to think for themselves and wake up to find out they were accused of being a communist.

It was better to let someone else do the thinking for you than risk being labeled being part of the red threat or a pinko commie sympathiser.

So they thinking went according to the monkeys.

When I first read this probably 50 years ago when I was a kid, I think I was able to grasp the meaning that folks do not want anyone telling them what to.

Maybe I was thinking along the lines of Mr. Lincoln’s “as I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.”

I thought the story noble in its’ irony.

I read it today not in with humor but with horror.

I read it today and feel that the irony now goes over most folks heads.

I read the line, “By sparing you the burden of electing your leaders, we save you from the dangers of choice. No more secret ballots, everything open and aboveboard.” and I hear folks yelling, “YESSIR, THAT’S IT!”.

As Mr. Twain wrote in Huckleberry Finn, “Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

BOY Howdy 😦

I still somehow have hope.

Maybe its more I want to refuse to be hope-less.

But I do hope that one day folks will break the chains of their new freedom and found their way back to the deep forest and begin playing leap-bear again and stealing honey and buns from the nearby cottages. And folk’s laughter and gaiety will ring through the forest, and birds that had ceased singing begin singing again, and all the sounds of the earth will be like music.

The Bears and the Monkeys.

In a deep forest there lived many bears. They spent the winter sleeping, and the summer playing leap-bear and stealing honey and buns from nearby cottages. One day a fast-talking monkey named Glib showed up and told them that their way of life was bad for bears. “You are prisoners of pastime,” he said, “addicted to leap-bear, and slaves of honey and buns.”

The bears were impressed and frightened as Glib went on talking. “Your forebears have done this to you,” he said. Glib was so glib, glibber than the glibbest monkey they had ever seen before, that the bears believed he must know more than they knew, or than anybody else. But when he left, to tell other species what was the matter with them, the bears reverted to their fun and games and their theft of buns and honey.

Their decadence made them bright of eye, light of heart, and quick of paw, and they had a wonderful time, living as bears had always lived, until one day two of Glib’s successors appeared, named Monkey Say and Monkey Do. They were even glibber than Glib, and they brought many presents and smiled all the time. “We have come to liberate you from freedom,” they said. “This is the New Liberation, twice as good as the old, since there are two of us.”

So each bear was made to wear a collar, and the collars were linked together with chains, and Monkey Do put a ring in the lead bear’s nose, and a chain on the lead bear’s ring. “Now you are free to do what I tell you to do,” said Monkey Do.

“Now you are free to say what I want you to say,” said Monkey Say. “By sparing you the burden of electing your leaders, we save you from the dangers of choice. No more secret ballots, everything open and aboveboard.” For a long time the bears submitted to the New Liberation, and chanted the slogan the monkeys had taught them: “Why stand on your own two feet when you can stand on ours?”

Then one day they broke the chains of their new freedom and found their way back to the deep forest and began playing leap-bear again and stealing honey and buns from the nearby cottages. And their laughter and gaiety rang through the forest, and birds that had ceased singing began singing again, and all the sounds of the earth were like music.

MORAL: It is better to have the ring of freedom in your ears than in your nose.

Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated by James Thurber, New York, Harpers, 1940.

6.25.2022 – this stormy present

this stormy present
occasion is piled high
with difficulty

Again and again I keep coming back to Abraham Lincoln’s 1862 Annual Address to Congress when he wrote ( and I saw wrote as the speech, now known as the State of the Union, was not delivered by the President in person until Woodrow Wilson first did it in 1913) so this speech was read to Congress by a clerk.

Mr. Lincoln closed this address with these words.

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.

The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.

As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.

We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.

We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves.

No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us.

The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.

We say we are for the Union.

The world will not forget that we say this.

We know how to save the Union.

The world knows we do know how to save it.

We, even we here, hold the power, and bear the responsibility.

In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve.

We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.

Other means may succeed; this could not fail.

The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.