Friday, January 29, 2016

Just Call me "Ammo"

Ammon Bundy, "just call me Ammo for short but never catch me short on ammo," the well armed leader of that ragtag bunch of gun toting seditionists occupying that wildlife headquarters was arrested the other night along with a handful of other well armed cowboys from Arizona when they left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon to rally other insurrectionists against the United States. Lavoy Finicum was shot and killed when he appeared to be reaching for a weapon after driving his vehicle into a snow bank trying to avoid a roadblock. Knows as "Tarp Man," Lavoy vowed to never be taken alive. Sad as it is for him and his family, which was comprised mainly of foster children who were recently removed from his house depriving him of his main source of income, it is sad for the country, too. There is a strange strain of Super-Patriots who hate America these days. Often relying on government subsidies of one kind or another, they see and fight against a tyranny that the rest of us can't see, like those guys wearing the sunglasses in "They Live," that weird sci-fi move a few years ago. Now in jail in Oregon, " Just call me Ammo" Bundy will soon be occupying another Federal facility - a Federal Penitentiary somewhere. I doubt, however, that he will be penitent. Others will soon be arrested eventually as well. A very strange and sad story. ** * * * * * * * * Upon hearing the news that Ammon Bundy and others who have been occupying that Oregon Wildlife Refuge have been arrested, ISIS has cancelled a second order of 10,000 Stetson 6X Bar None Fur Felt Western Hats from Shepler' "Even though our guys really like those hats, as soon as I saw the arrests on my Facebook page this evening, I went online and cancelled the order," said ISIS Leader, Abu Bakr Al Bagdhadi. "Besides, those are kind of expensive at over $200 a pop. Given how long it took for the law to arrest those guys, we thought there must be some magical powers in those hats, but if they're not an effective deterrent after all, we don't need them." * * * * * * * * * ** Donald Trump boycotted the Republican debate in Iowa last night. I would emphasize the "boy" in boycott as his mean-spirited temper tantrum against Megyn Kelly continues. I would just remind you that just because Donald Trump is an obnoxious, bigoted, blowhard turd bucket doesn't mean that Megyn Kelly is a good journalist. I do have a suggested question for Ms. Kelly if the Donald does show up: "Mr. Trump, why are you such a dickhead?" Donald also said he could shoot random people on 5th Avenue in New York City and his support would not go down. I suspect this is because many of his supporters would also randomly shoot people on 5th Avenue in New York City. * ** * * * * * * In Omaha news, Mayor Stothert's new snow removal plan includes using big snow plows to keep major streets cleared. Good thinking. * * * * * * * * * * The US Senate voted 50-49 this week that human actions were not a cause of global warming. I guess that clears that up. Here's an Andy Rooney question for you: Why is that the same people who get all worried that windmills will slow down the earth's rotation and that solar panels will drain the energy from the sun can't believe that 500 years of pumping trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere would affect the climate? * * * * * * * * My schadenfreude moment of the week: those two people who made those fake videos about Planned Parenthood just got indicted, in Texas.........and Planned Parenthood was cleared - again. Schadenfreude is taking pleasure in other people's pain. I try to be above that if I can, but in this instance, I have succumbed to the feeling. * * * * * * * Finally, Tom Osborne has saved a lot of kids in his life, but he couldn't save Lawrence Phillips. RIP Lawrence.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Language Discovered at Donald Trump Rally

In a stunning development, Sarah Palin has apparently created a new spoken language in her endorsement speech of Donald Trump this week in Iowa. "This is totally unexpected in a Presidential campaign," said one observer. "Usually, candidates will attempt to communicate with their audiences in comprehensible speech formats, but this word salad is different. We are familiar with rare instances where isolated feral siblings, especially twins, will develop a private language, but this is extremely rare. We can only theorize this is due to her time in Alaska separated from the stabilizing linguistic forces of the lower 48 states. This sort of thing usually happens deep in the Amazon rain forests, but in the middle of Iowa?" Although the crowd was cheering exuberantly, no one we talked to could actually repeat what she said. One Trump supporter said, "She was on a roll and I could tell she was excited, but I really didn't understand a word she said. But instead of criticizing her lack of oratorical skills, we should congratulate her on her creative linguistic achievement." * * * * * * * In response to this historic event, a team of linguistics experts are going over the tapes of Sarah Palin's endorsement speech investigating grammatic as well lexical features in that she used coinages the experts were not familiar with like "squirmishes." "We brought in the best of the best linguists, grammarians, and Proto-Indo-European language experts we could find in the country to crack this one," the group's leader, Professor Hermoine Wordsmithington said. "We are hopeful, that given enough time, we will be able to decipher these words to determine what, if any, meaning they might have, and if this language exists in written form. It is quite possible we have a language that exists solely in spoken form. We will have access to the best language computer programs in the world to ascertain the grammatic structure of what Ms. Palin said, if any. We will be consulting medical experts to see if she has a possible brain condition like schizophasia that might lead to these metaphoric bursts of images devoid of common grammatic markers found in most people's every day and educated speech patterns. An example to put this in context is synaesthesia in which auditory sensations can trigger visual color stimuli. * * * * * * * * Noam Chomsky, noted language expert, is so far completely stumped. "Even 'Colorless green ideas sleep furiously' was grammatically comprehensible if not semantically cogent," Noam said. "I wrote the book on deep structure, but this thing is a total head-scratcher." "We will be consulting with the best and brightest trackers of slang, argot, jargon, and pidgins looking for correlations that might provide illumination," Hermoine continued. "Religious experts in glossolalia, speaking in tongues, are being consulted as we speak to determine if some kind of religious possession took place. In the meantime, we are as mystified as anyone, but hopeful we will be able to determine if any decipherable utterances actually took place." She also cautioned that it is possible that no coherent message will ever be found. She also commented that surprisingly about the closest related examples they have come up with so far were from drug/alcohol induced trance-like poetry from the Beat Generation, aboriginal religious tribal utterances, Aramaic love poetry, and post-modern apocalyptic Alaskan back-country rap. Harvard Professor Steven Pinker,a psycho-linguistics authority, and one of our group, has suggested this might be a reversion to an earlier state of language development especially the pre-antecedent music theory cognition model. Steven went on to say that he was already planning to dedicate his next six books to this astounding phenomenon."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Day I Saw President Obama

Sputnik was launched by the Soviet Union when I was 7. For several years after that I wanted to be an astronaut. In the few years after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated when I was 13, President Johnson was able to pass significant civil rights and voting rights legislation and I wanted to be President. In the subsequent 52 years, things happened, and I didn't make it, and the odds, which started at about zero and went down from there, of me ever being an astronaut or the President go down even further with each passing day. Today in Omaha, though, I saw the President of the United States. He came to Omaha the day after delivering the State of the Union Address in DC the night before. The crowd was estimated by police at about 11,000. Baxter Arena seats 7500 according to published info on their Wikipedia entry and was built in the last year and just opened. All around were hundreds, probably, of Omaha Police and Secret Service and arena staff and volunteers. One very Secret Service fellow had "SECRET SERVICE" in large white capital letters on the front and back of his coat. Some secret. * ** * * * * * * My journey to Baxter Arena began at about 11:45 am when I arrived at the UNO campus and got on a shuttle bus to the Arena. A half hour later we were disembarked and joined a very long line of people outside waiting for the doors to open. I struck up a conversation with the fellow next to me and it turns out he runs the Steve Hogan Golf Course at Miller Park and we chatted golf off and on for the next 90 minutes as the line gradually began to move. I sat with him and his family for the speech. I'm glad it was 20 degrees warmer than the day before. Everyone was screened through a phalanx of TSA search stations where my belt buckle and loose change in my coat pocket set off the warning lights and I was body searched and then cleared and we were ushered to our seats. By chance I was seated next to an old friend from my UNO undergraduate days. We visited and caught up a bit. It was nice to see her again. * ** * * * After about a 2 hour wait in the auditorium, President Obama arrived and gave what was essentially a redo of the State of the Union Address to a wildly enthusiastic crowd. It was a wonderful speech, inspirational and filled with hope and all the good that the American Dream could be, punctuated by cheers and "We love you" shoutouts and applause. And clearly it will rile and rankle Republicans to no end.
*** * * * * * After the event was over, we all exited the building and I watched his motorcade drive away, red lights flashing, going west on Center Street. And then after some more waiting, the shuttle bus ride back to UNO got me there. A grueling, exhausting, fascinating day. I noticed at least two medical emergencies where rescue staff were involved. But I can scratch another item off my "bucket list." Last year I rode my motorcycle to Sturgis, S.D. This year, I saw a President. I will put the ticket in my glass fronted bookcase with some of my other special memorabilia.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

ISIS orders 10,000 Stetson 6X Bar None Fur Felt Western Hats from Shepler' and other news

In a leaked top secret CIA report, it was revealed today that ISIS has ordered 10,000 Stetson 6X Bar None Fur Felt Western Hats from Shepler' The secret intercept revealed that ISIS is monitoring the Oregon takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and believe the cowboy hats will confuse the United States into thinking they are just angry white cowboys from Arizona and Nevada and will take no action. This same secret intercept quoted an ISIS leader as saying, "To all ISIS jihadists: We don't fully understand the phenomenon, but even though cops shoot unarmed black kids on sight, it appears that if an armed terrorist in the US wears a cowboy hat, the US government will take no action. We are therefore ordering 10,000 cowboy hats in various sizes. And since most of you guys drive Ford F-150 pickups anyway, this should work well. And besides, the wide brims will hide your faces. Allahu Akbar and Yipee-yi-yo-kayah mother f*****." An anonymous source within the White House responded by saying, "Well, just because they wear cowboy hats doesn't mean they're not terrorists." * * * * * * * * A list of demands was sent from the Oregon bird sanctuary occupied by armed insurrectionists today: 1) the United States Federal Government must disband immediately ceding all authority in all matters to the states, 2) Clive Bundy should be able to graze his cattle free on other people's property, 3) all Federal prisoners should be immediately released, 4) five large pizzas with extra cheese and ten 2-litre bottles of Coke Zero, 5) 24 rolls of double-ply toilet paper, and 6) soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste, and 7) forward all government disability/welfare/ subsidy checks of participating anti-government revolutionaries to this Oregon address. It was also reported that Cliven Bundy, father of two of the participants in the occupation, likes to refer to himself as Moroni, a Mormon prophet; the people who know him call him Moron for short. * * * * * * After an apparent North Korean nuclear test detected this week, Republicans were all frantic and worried and talking about megalomaniac, mentally unstable leaders with nuclear weapons. Holy cow, haven't they looked around at who is at the Republican Presidential debates? In an emergency session, yesterday, Republicans in Congress responded to the North Korean development by passing a bill to repeal Obamacare. "That'll show those North Koreans," House Speaker Paul Ryan said. * * * * * * * On a short break in my morning T -Th class today I went to the restroom and walking out, instead of turning left, I turned right, and walked into my M-W morning classroom and immediately noticed a wrong set of students. I apologized to the instructor and found my back to my T-Th classroom. It was a bit disorienting. In student papers this week, one complained that a friend of hers was a "wreck less" driver" and another one wrote that being on the high school wrestling team wasn't in the same ball park as being on the junior high wrestling team. Um, I suppose not.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Vacant Lots, Urban Amnesia, and the Transience of it All

I was talking with a poet friend of mine today about poetry, old buildings, old friends, and other stuff. We used to work together and I like his poetry and he likes my blogs and art. I like how his house is filled with books, and art, and family photos. During our conversation, I mentioned one of my regrets: not taking photos of unoccupied farm houses I used to drive by three or four times a years as I traveled the state back when I was doing that. There was one house on the drive to Norfolk and each time I drove by it, something would have changed. It sat a bit up the hill on the east side of the highway and was large and white with a big front porch. I imagine the original occupants spent many an evening sitting on that porch after a day of farming watching the traffic and the sky and the Elkhorn river valley. But no more. The house was empty and no longer a home. Each time I drove by, the lawn was further reverting to long grasses, a tree sprout by the foundation would be larger, one broken window would become three, or a shutter would be hanging from the final screw. Each time, the roof would sag a big more like old things and people tend to sag. Time is not nice to abandoned houses -- or people. I wish I had taken those photos. There were at least half a dozen old farms houses and barns I used to notice. And in Omaha, I will sometimes drive by a place I have been many, many times before, and it will be a newly razed empty lot, and I will not be able to remember what was there the day before. Down by the med center, it can be an entire block that will disappear between drive-bys. Four or five houses in a row will suddenly be gone, and I cannot remember what they looked like. There needs to be a word for that neighborhood amnesia, that archaeological transience. Greg said he read an article about that phenomenon once -- I'll try to find it. Jobbers canyon came up, and I thought of the Clarinda, and now those three buildings the city is trying to buy to give to the Holland Center. I hope they don't just tear them down to make a parking lot. * * * * * * * A small woman who lived a large life, Bernice, used to sit on the opposite end of the pew from me in church on Sundays. I would greet her and ask her how she was and she'd always say, "Not bad for an old lady." She's gone now but I still remember her sitting there. Other people sit there now. Several golfing buddies of mine are gone now. One died in his 40s, another in his 50s, another in his 60s. And I remember them all. My dad passed several years ago and my mother is 90 now and doing well - not bad for an old lady. But I'm guessing there are people on the edges of my life whom I barely notice, like those homes which became houses which became vacant lots, who suddenly are gone and I don't remember who was there. And I suspect I am that same person for others...... That's kind of sad.