Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Sunday Feeling

The Washington Post referred to it as "economic insanity."  Stephen Marche of Esquire Magazine referred to it as "economic suicide."

The "it" referred to hereinabove is Great Britain's inexplicable decision rendered by its body politic to leave the European Union.  Well, the decision is explainable.  It's just not a very good explanation.  What it came down to is that the people that backed Britain leaving the EU, or "Brexit" to use the acronym, convinced a slim majority of British voters that a vote to exit was to cast off a meddlesome and officious foreign bureaucracy from the back of John Bull. It was also a referendum on the EU's liberal migration policies within the 28 nation bloc.  

Except there is this.  As Laurie Penny wrote in the New Statesman Friday morning, the vote was a not a referendum on the EU.  "It was a referendum on the modern world, and yesterday the frightened parochial lizard-brain of Britain voted out, out, out and today we've all woken up still strapped onto this ghost-train as it hurtles off the tracks."

The ghost train to which she refers is the one that left an economic bloc with a population of 508 million and a GDP of 17 trillion to go it alone.  The ghost train left in its wake-which, of course, assumes that trains leave wakes-a pound note that went through the floor almost immediately as prophesied by experts,more on that later, and has the Scots and Northern Ireland looking at ways to stay in.

God what a mess this could very well turn out to be.  

But I believe Ms. Penny is on to something.  The vote to exit the EU was a vote against the modern world with its emphasis on empiricism and expertise.  A world which is not exclusively white, male and straight.  

Predictably, as night followeth the day, Donald Trump, speaking in Scotland for God's sake, a Scotland that voted to stay in the EU, claimed that the vote was proof that "people want to take their country back" a none too subtle variant on his campaign promise to "Make America Great Again" a theme which resonates for a goodly number of voters here on this side of the pond.  Overwhelmingly older, less educated and white voters.  

So, in light of the stunning events in GB last week, the question not an inconsiderable number of folks are asking is whether a vulgarian like Trump can seize upon the momentum generated over there and get propelled into the Oval Office here?

Probably not.  It is because the Founding Fathers, particularly Alexander Hamilton, did not especially trust the electorate when it came to electing a President.  They feared that the masses could be manipulated by a future tyrant.  So the Electoral College got put into the Constitution.  And the states with the greatest number of electoral votes have not been in play for the Republicans for years.  It is hard to believe that this will change with a narcissistic xenophobe (Or one who panders to xenophobes at least. Who knows if Trump actually believe a third of this crap he's putting out?) at the top of the ticket.

Populist nationalist fervor can get issues like Brexit passed.  It is not enough-and least not in my lifetime-to get a President elected.

The vote on this year's Presidential race, like the vote on Brexit, will be a referendum on the modern world.  Will we look backward or forward? 

The Founding Fathers were always looking forward.  And we can thank them for ordaining a Constitution that protects us from ourselves.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Blows Against The Empire

I came back from the gym this morning to discover that my PC was running Windows 10.  This upgrade was completely unbidden by me.  

The only reason I still fool with the PC is because the government and the legal worlds have not yet migrated over to the Mac universe.  But I have Word for Mac. And the PC users can open my docs.  The folks at the paper that are in the world of Mac can't open stuff I send them from Pages.  

Go figure.

Anyway, I uninstalled Windows 10.  Microsoft asked me why.

"Because I was perfectly happy with Windows 7.  I didn't want this.  Didn't ask for it.  And you guys imposed this on me anyway.  What is wrong with you people?"

I'm not holding my breath waiting for a reply.  


This was at the Field Day at Holy Souls School last month.  This guy wasn't the only performer in the circus act that was there for the kids.  But these were the best pictures.   Or some of the best.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My Sunday Feeling

As most folks that know me and/or follow this page have come to realize is that my relationship with the game of golf is problematic most of the time.  In Facebook relationship status terms," it's complicated." 

I have a trip coming up to Louisiana here pretty soon and the plan is to pretty much play golf for 3 or 4 days.  So you can imagine my abundant great joy at my last two outings being utter disasters.  As in barely getting the ball into the air.  As in looking like I had never touched a club in my life.  

People sometimes say that tennis is a lot like golf.  People who say that are idiots.  Tennis is nothing like golf.  

Even while enduring my worst ass kicking on the tennis court a spectator could deduce that I could play tennis at a certain level of skill and that maybe the other player was just too good that day or I was having an off day.  That would be about it.  

There are days on the golf course where it looks like I don't know which end of the club to grasp.  Last Sunday was one of those days.  This is not good seeing as how I have this trip coming up which is largely dedicated to playing the damn game.  So I contacted my friend Jerry to see if I could get a lesson in.

Jerry is an interesting guy.  Seventies.  First met him through his brother-in-law who is my Baptist preacher golf buddy.  Jerry also competes on the Senior long drive tour.  He knows a thing or two about striking the golf ball.  And he has a tendency to make things very simple.  Simple is what I need.  

"What have you done to yourself this time?" he said by way of greeting as I approached the lesson tee.  

I told him that, quite honestly, I was playing like radioactive dog shit.  He nodded.  Told me to step up and hit a few balls.  I was topping them and pulling them.  You know.  Radioactive dogs hit.

"You're delofting the club again," he said. "You've got that forward press going with your hands again."

He pulled a wedge out of my bag.  He held it up in front of me.  

"The Ping iron is a marvelous feat of engineering," he said. " It will do exactly what you make it do.  And you are making it hit worm burners."

Check ball position.  Pull hands to in front of right hip.  Start right shoulder going before the backswing.  

Bang!  Nothing to this game.

"Now we are gonna change how you set up.  What did you teach over there at Catholic?"


"What did you teach?"

"History and choir mostly."

"Ah! An artist. Not a technician. Did you sit behind the desk when you taught?"

"Well no.  I walked around the room when I taught.  What's this got to do with golf?"

"This.  I've known you a couple of years now.  You can't stand still.  You walk around or rock back and forth while I talk."


"So when a guy as fidgety as you spends a lot of time over the ball he starts fooling around with his grip and everything else.  You try to think the ball down field.  We're gonna change that. This is how you set up from here on out."

He took a club.  Walked over by me.  He started walking to the ball.  

"I'm looking at my target.  I'm not looking at the ball.  I stop at the ball.  I hold the club straight out to get my alignment.  I put the club on the ground and I aim the bottom part of the club at the target.  I take one more look downfield.  I hit it."

Bang.  He hit it.

"And I let it go. Whatever happens I let it go. I let the swing go.  I let the result go.  I let it go until the next shot. And I do it all over again."

Now this was pretty zen stuff for an older Baptist.  But I have to admit this approach made a lot of sense.  He's right.  A fidgety guy like me doesn't need to commune over the ball.  Bad things start happening when I have to time to think about it.  

Walk up and hit it.  And let it go.  

"This is supposed to be recreation right?" he said. "Go have fun with your buddy down there.  Eat a bunch of good food.  Call me when you get back and tell me about what all you did down there."

Let it go.

M doesn't always go clergy on me but she says there's a larger metaphor at work here as well.  I don't always go "touchy feely" on her but I think she's right.  

The game of golf can impart life lessons.

OK. Maybe that's not what M is getting at.   And I don't much believe that anyway.  

But I get Jerry's larger point.  And I'm gonna let it go.  

Maybe next I can cut down on my cussin' out there on the course.

Nah.  Some things aren't possible.   

Sunday, June 05, 2016

My Sunday Feeling

One of the things that I really like about my station in life since leaving government service is that I get to be around young folks a lot more than I used to back when I was slinging paper in the Federal Building.  I think it keeps me young.  And I think I'm so much outside the little boxes of a lot of these kids that they like being around me.  What little success I managed to obtain as a faux teacher last semester was for this reason alone.  I firmly believe this.  

There were days that I wore a suit to school.  I was terra incognito.

Anyway, I heard through the grapevine that one of my young adult friends had sustained "a broken heart." These are his words.  

Bummer.  Been there.  Not lately, Praise God.  But I have been there.  As have we all.  

I knew that he liked this girl.  His face always lit up when he spoke about her. Gone on at least one trip together of which I was aware.  And then something happened I guess.  

And now the boy's heart is broken.  

I did not let the fact that he had not actually applied for solace from me deter me from horning in.   In my text, as I said totally unbidden by the kid, I told him that I was sorry.  I told him that he would get over it.  That I was here for him.  What else can somebody say?

Well, "what else" might be something like unto this.  Pain is pain and I am not discounting his.  He's a sensitive guy.  And I mean that in the best artistic sense and not in the "Why do you hate my cats?" sense.  

But one of the good things about being my age instead of 25 is that I know the sun will come up in the morning.  I have the balm of 35 years of perspective to get me through the rough patches.  He doesn't.  I've been 25.  Don't want to go back.

I remember that 60 Minutes did a story on some famous soprano whose name escapes me.  She was videoed doing a master class for young singers.  A young woman sang something by Stephen Sondheim for her.  Nothing as dreadful as "Send In The Clowns" but something equally overwrought and New Yorkish.  

The famous soprano said something along the lines of "Dear, you were just wonderful.  But you will not be able to really appreciate what you just sang until you have experienced the losses that will come your way the next 20 years." There's something to that.  

Been texting back and forth tonight with my friend B.   She lost her husband about a year ago.  She's getting through it. But her grief at times is like unto heat waves coming off a country road in August.  

When you get to be my age you reach an uneasy accommodation with pain and loss because it is the way of the world.  Mother's people are not going to be around forever.  I know this.  It is the natural order of things.  I hate it.  But I expect it.  

That's perspective.  You don't have that at 25.  My young buddy is neither a narcissist nor a pain in the ass. He would not equate his pain with the pain of someone who has lost a spouse of 40 years.  But still. He's a hurtin' cowboy and I feel badly for him.

What to do?  We're guys.  We don't really do post-mortems when shit like this happens.  Most likely I will eventually offer to buy him some kinda crafty beer somewhere.

And I won't say much to him other than "It will be alright.  Really it will."

The sun will come up in the morning.  Just like it has every day the 60 years I have graced this planet.

It will be alright.  Really it will.  Been there.  Lived to tell about it.  And I'm glad that I'm not 25.