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    • What Can You Do In Troubled Times?
      Most of what I write is analysis or sermon; when I write about what can be done, I usually write about what society can do and rarely what individuals can do. However I’ve had a few requests for writing about what my readers can do, in the situation we now find ourselves and in the […]
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Well… It’s here

happy-new-year-2017-images-hdWho list his wealth and ease retain,
Himself let him unknown contain.
Press not too fast in at that gate
Where the return stands by disdain,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

Americans are spoiled. We haven’t had war pounding on our door for 150 years. If we want to engage in warfare, we have to join someone else’s war or create one of our own somewhere else. Yes, Yes, there was that whole Pearl Harbor thing but you know, it’s not the same when it happens halfway around the world.

Not that there’s going to be a war this year. Or at least not a new one. I hope.

It’s just to say that Americans don’t really know hardship. Well, SOME Americans know hardship rather well. They’ll probably adapt better than the rest of us. It helps to have been laid off in the Great Recession. That will give you a good perspective on things, like when’s the best time to plant your garden.

All this is to say that 2016, as awful as it was, is going to be nothing compared to 2017. In 2017, I expect to see a fire sale of the various working pieces of government as there is a rush to privatize absolutely everything. The Congressional Republicans will try to replace Medicare, which you have paid for all of your working life out of your salary, with scrip that you can only use at the company store for inflated prices.

The high mountains are blasted oft
When the low valley is mild and soft.
Fortune with Health stands at debate.
The fall is grievous from aloft.
And sure, circa Regna tonat.

I expect that they will also use generational warfare to stick a shiv deep into the thoracic cavity of Social Security. They will lie about how broke the program is. But it’s not broken if they raise the limit on the payroll tax. Simple, simple fix that will harm almost no one. That’s not how these people roll though. So expect them not to do the simple thing. Expect them to dismantle it piece by piece, giving the elderly Fox News crowd a temporary sense of false security.

There are surely some elderly out there on fixed benefits who use Medicare who are saying, “They would never do that. Why would they do that?! No one would put up with that.” It’s just INCONCEIVABLE that these paragons of Christian virtue would permanently vitiate your future or current retirement or medical benefits. You’re an American, after all. That kind of thing only happens in Greece.

I hate to break it to the Fox News contingent but the people you have been following probably don’t care about your suffering. They’re very good at deflecting blame. But they are in office for a reason. You voted them in or did nothing to prevent it. It’s a little like listening to the seductive whispers of the vampire. Once you invite them in, they get a little blood thirsty and the honeymoon is over.

These bloody days have broken my heart.
My lust, my youth did them depart,
And blind desire of estate.
Who hastes to climb seeks to revert.
Of truth, circa Regna tonat.

As for Obamacare, it was doomed when Obama and the Democrats went all soft and squishy on setting the cost of procedures and prescription drugs just like every other nation with an operating national health care system.

{{banging head on keyboard again and again and again}}

Ok, I’m better now. Where was I?

Who to blame? Well, I’m not going to blame myself or any of the GOTV people I worked with this year who were magnificent and dedicated and took their mission very seriously. I’m sure as hell not going to blame the candidate who performed so brilliantly at the debates that the fog of indecision lifted for millions of voters to such an extent that it had to be brought crashing down again quickly by a poisoned letter.

The bell tower showed me such sight
That in my head sticks day and night.
There did I learn out of a grate,
For all favour, glory, or might,
That yet circa Regna tonat.

There are several culprits in this whole bad thing coming our way. First, there was the unforgiveably long recession brought on by what appeared to be criminally negligent and fraudulent behavior on the part of the finance industry. We were crippled by that and the fact that when we needed the government to work on our behalf, it did a really half-assed job of it. Someone needed to get serious and courageous with the stimulus package. Someone didn’t.

Second, there is the media. There’s just no getting around it. I hope someone has a plan to deal with this problem. Because the good guys are not able to control the message.

Anyway, long winded rambling. We’ve heard it all before.

It only remains to be seen how brazen Trump is going to be. I think we can expect him to go up to the line and cross it – routinely. Expect palace intrigue, a survival of the fittest attitude at the White House as the wealthy and powerful discover with intense self-reflection that they are the most virtuous and deserving. This gives them the responsibility to take whatever they can get so it doesn’t fall into the hands of the unvirtuous and undeserving.

Regrettably, Trump’s supporters may find that without the requisite proof of their virtue, say, $100 Million or so, they will fall into the latter group.

The absence of attention at the top is only going to encourage the courtiers and advisors to fill the vacuum, probably by stepping on the metaphorically dead corpses of their colleagues.

What is bewildering is that we have seen this before and still ended up here. Don’t set your sights too high or climb the ladder too fast in the court of a volatile, self centered king.

By proof, I say, there did I learn:
Wit helpeth not defence too yerne,
Of innocency to plead or prate.
Bear low, therefore, give God the stern,
For sure, circa Regna tonat.

Next time, if there is a meaningful next time, don’t sit at home on election day. Vote.

Circa Regna Tonat, “About the Throne the Thunder Roars”, Thomas Wyatt, 1536

New Years 

The entertainment is just getting warmed up in the lounge tonight. Some Canadian jazz pianist with a voice like whiskey and cigarettes. 

You take a seat in a wash of blue light and take a sip of cool amber. 

You see his familiar face across the room. He walks over and says, “I haven’t seen you for awhile. Care to dance?” 

Sure, why not. 

He’s taller than you remember. You kick off your heels anyway. It’s a habit. 

The singer finds her groove, you bury your nose in his shirt. His hand settles on the disputed territory between your back and the top of your pencil skirt. Here we go…

Happy New Year! 

Plague 2016

219-2016-06-50-18-evolved-timelineHas anyone out there ever played Plague? That’s the game where you try to make the human species go extinct using biology. It’s not as easy as you think. It took me a couple tries to get the hang of it.

First, you have to design a pathogen that’s easy to spread. I like to make it affect the lungs. Then gradually you add more lethality to it and make sure it can be introduced from place to place via multiple transportation methods. Start the bugger off in a crowded developing nation, like Indonesia or China. That way it can infect a lot of people at the outset and mutate. It can take out millions in the manner of the Spanish Flu before we develop resistance and the bug dies out before people do.

I tried making the pathogen hot right away but if you make it too much like Ebola, it quickly peters out when there are no hosts in the immediate vicinity to hitch a ride on because they’re all bleeding out. No, it’s got to be more subtle than that. You need to keep the host feeling ok and moving from place to place before he sheds his pathogen.

The trick to winning plague, from my limited experience, is making sure that the people collaborating on a cure never meet while turning up the volume on civil unrest. Just crash the plane with the researchers on it. Or make sure that telecommunications are disrupted and do this everywhere on the globe. Wherever there is an attempt for the humans to rally and fight back, squash it immediately and without mercy. Then watch as civilization dies and the species is reduced to a few wandering bands of hapless cannibals.

The first time I made the species extinct, it was awesome because, you know, it’s just a game. The second time, I stopped sabotaging the scientists a little sooner and started to root for the home team to make a comeback late in the 4th quarter. But it was too late. Once the population has reached some kind of extinction event horizon, there’s nothing that can be done to bring it back. Then I watched in horror as those little struggling bands dwindled to unsustainable numbers then winked out. It made me feel responsible and guilty so I had to stop playing.

2016 has that feeling. I feel like we’re in the hands of some diabolically bratty kid who is determined to see how much damage he can wreck on us. And for whatever reason, all our attempts to resist him so far have been feckless as one by one the safety valves and emergency systems are disabled.

It’s not like we don’t see the danger coming. You’d have to be a hard ass with malice in your heart and a ruthless ambition for power to think anything good is going to happen when Trump takes office. And even though the number of people who didn’t vote for Trump exceeds the number that did by something like 12 Million people, it’s going to take a while before the majority of Trump’s mislead supporters get a clue. Meanwhile, the Democrats are fighting with each other when finding common ground is not only easy but critical, and the Republicans are about to take a chainsaw to Social Security and Medicare.

The world’s geography hasn’t changed. The chokepoints that existed during WWII still exist today: the eastern Mediterranean, the south China Sea, the Nato countries on the eastern front. Funny how they all seem relevent again all of the sudden.

And yet, we’re powerless to stop it. Not only powerless but powerless for the cheapest of reasons. It might look unseemly.

Most of us do not want this man. He’s capable of massive destruction in every conceivable way. Yet we keep getting pushed closer and closer to getting him, like we are strapped to a conveyor belt that steadily inches towards the laser aimed between our legs.

Cue the binary solo:

Mercy Now 

There’s a quote from The Fellowship of the Ring that’s been floating around in my head all day. It’s when the hobbits escape an early peril with the help of Tom Bombadil but they are distressed about losing their possessions. Tom says, “Clothes are a little loss when you escape from drowning”. 

Have mercy. We will need each other later. 

For every boy who dreamed of pointe shoes

Here’s a non-traditional version of the Nutcracker choreographed by Mark Morris called The Hard Nut.

I love the whipped topping headdress and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. 


Can we all agree that we don’t have to necessarily buy into the whole nativity narrative to appreciate this version of Hallelujah? This kid has an amazing voice. My choir teacher would say great tonal memory. She didn’t miss a single note. And there’s something about her delivery that feels very authentic. 

You don’t have to have a mature vibrato to sing like an angel. 

Kayla Rodgers is a student at Killard House School in Northern Ireland. This school meets the needs of autistic children and those with moderate learning disabilities. 

Favorite Carols. 

This is my favorite version of Good King Wenceslas by The Roches.