Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Positive Vibes for Negative Times

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

good news jpgTrump to Puerto Rico: Drop Dead!

Trump to Americans struggling to afford health insurance: Drop dead!

Trump to North Korea: Drop dead!

Trump to the free press: Drop dead!

Trump to the LGBT community: Drop dead:

Trump to immigrants: Drop dead!

Trump to NFL players: Drop dead!

Trump to Iran: Drop dead!

Trump to pregnant war widow: He knew what he signed up for.

Trump to anyone who will listen: I am not a moron!

                                                         ***

In reply to my recent column on the Nibiru planet hoax and efforts to contact intelligent life elsewhere in the universe — maybe even set up a colony on Mars — my friend Ernie Miller commented: “It is nice you can maintain a positive outlook amidst the carnage and cacophony that is daily life.”

“Ernie,” I replied,“it ain’t easy.”

In truth, it has never been harder in the half century I have been writing about “daily life,” as it were.

As it is, today it is sometimes unbelievably depressing and infuriating to reflect upon the “carnage and cacophony” in which we are seemingly enmeshed. And writing about it? Everyone is writing about it. Social media is awash in it. Yes, actual factual information is vital, but that steady drumbeat of ignorance and arrogance at the center of most news stories today only seems to add to the great wall of negative energy engulfing our universal consciousness, making us act, if you will, as if we were all collectively unconscious.

Thank you, Carl Jung, for allowing me to misappropriate and mangle your theory for my own personal benefit. In my defense, my hope is that whatever bits of positive energy I can contribute to the greater consciousness can only be for the good of the collective universe.

So, here goes:

  • I’m getting a 2 percent raise in my Social Security check next year. That’s good news not only for me, but for millions of others who receive monthly checks (thank you, FDR) and who have not had a raise since 2012 because the government figured inflation wasn’t bad enough and the cost of living wasn’t going up so’s you’d notice. Some of us noticed. I could feel the vibe of 66 million recipients ripple across America when I read the story. It’s the first substantial raise in years. Most recipients are seniors over age 65, but some payments also go to the severely disabled and orphans. The average check is currently $1,377 a month, meaning next year’s increase will raise the typical payment by $27 a month. Listen, it’s a start.
  • We also learned that, despite the devastation Hurricane Maria visited on Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory, made famous in the films “Contact” (Jodie Foster) and “GoldenEye” (Sean Connery), survived with what was called “fixable” damage and no casualties. This is positive news because Arecibo is a star in the search-for-life-in-the-universe universe. The radio telescope,  built in 1963, was the first to find planets around other stars, the first to provide an image of an asteroid and — back to Carl Sagan’s “Contact” — sent the famous Arecibo Message to M13, a cluster of bodies 25,000 light years away. The message informs any sentient beings who receive it who we are and where we live. Send us a text message. Of course, it’ll be at least 50,000 years before we get an answer, but it’s the sending that contributes hope to the universal consciousness. Arecibo’s radar has been called “by far the most sensitive planetary radar in the world” and the folks who fund it — the National Science Foundation — say it does “excellent science.” Alas, in this era of anti-science, an official at NSF says, what with the damage Arecibo did incur, “If you look at the overall sweep of things that we’re funding, we do have to make choices and we can’t keep funding everything that’s excellent.” Perish the thought. So, here’s looking at you, Arecibo, and here’s sending some positive vibes about you into the nearby universe.
  • Staying in Puerto Rico and the notion of doing what you can for the collective good, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, an alternative energy company, made the initial installment of his promise to restore the island’s power grid with solar energy. San Juan’s Hospital del Niño – a children’s hospital with 3,000 patients — has power again, supplied by a collection of Tesla solar panels in the parking lot. The Tesla Twitter account posted: “Hospital del Niño is first of many solar-storage projects going live. Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with (Gov.) Ricardo Rossello.” All kinds of positive energy here. Musk, of course, is also the one talking about establishing a colony on Mars and who’s willing to bet against him?
  • In an extraordinary example of quantum positive energy, a  hand-written note by Albert Einstein sold at auction in Jerusalem for $1.56 million. The note was written in November 1922, when Einstein, then 43, was in Japan for a lecture series. While in Tokyo, he learned he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. When a courier came to his hotel room to make a delivery, Einstein did not have any money to tip him, so he handed the messenger a signed note, written in German: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” A kind of e=mc2 for a peaceful universe. The message was obviously paid forward several times before someone realized what Einstein clearly knew at the time — a bird in the hand (a signed note from a Nobel laureate, say) is worth two (or even more) in the bush.
  • Chris Long, who plays defensive end for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, is donating his entire year’s salary to improve educational opportunities in the United States. Long used his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Va., his hometown. He’s dedicating the remaining 10 to launch the “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” campaign. “I believe that education is the best gateway to a better tomorrow for EVERYONE in America,” he wrote on Pledge It.  “I’m encouraging fans, businesses and every person with a desire to join in my pursuit of equal education opportunities for all students to make their own pledge.’ He hopes to double his pledge with this collective effort.
  • In a somewhat desperate effort to find some positive news, I typed “good news” in the Google search bar. Voila! The web is awash in other folks looking to add positive energy to the collective consciousness. Duh. Some of the above came from that search. It’s good to remember: We are not alone, even in the private universe of our anxious minds.
  • Speaking of synchronicity, hurry it up, Mueller.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Going Ape for One Day in the N.Y. Times

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Ivan, eating a plum, last August in Atlanta.

By Bob Gaydos

The New York Times famously proclaims that its pages contain “all the news that’s fit to print.” As a sort of research project for myself, I decided to see just what stories fit into that category on Jan. 29 — Thursday. Turned out to be an interesting collection, ranging from monkeys to Boy Scouts to ballet. Check it out:

  • Did anyone ask the monkey? Iran, ever eager to prove it is more First World than Third World, announced that it had sent a monkey into space successfully. Meaning the monkey strapped in on the short space flight — pretty much just up and down — returned alive. Says Iran. This rocket- rattling is supposed to make the rest of the countries on the planet (Israel especially) worry about the terrorist-supporting nation’s ability to launch missiles at them. Not to worry yet, folks.

However, monkeys might want to be wary if the other countries don’t show enough concern about the Iranian rocket test. It might convince them to launch another. Which begs the question: What did monkeys ever do to us? They are our closest living relatives among other animals on the planet, yet we humans have routinely used them in experiments we consider potentially life-threatening. Is this moral behavior?

The United States and Russia used chimpanzees in the early stages of their space programs. But there was no shortage of daredevils hurtling about in really fast vehicles who were ready and willing to be the first, second, etc. in space. Surely in Iran, the sponsor of so many terrorists willing to give their lives for a visit with the holy virgins, there were a few patriots willing to strap in on the rocket to see if it worked.

At the very least, the Iranians could have gone farther down in the pecking order and sent, say, rats into space. What did rats ever do for us?

I guess the point is. If we truly respect life on this planet. It ought to extend to all life, or in the case of rats, pretty much all life. But monkeys are our cousins. We say love them. Then they deserve to be treated better than, well, guinea pigs.

  • Catch the name on that freight train? The Boy Scouts of America, proudly homophobic and burned by the release of hundreds of previously concealed names of Scout officials suspected or flat-out guilty of molesting Scouts, announced a potential new policy that would allow local chapters to decide who they would, or would not, allow as Scouts. This policy flies directly against the wishes of most of the organization’s senior leadership, but the rest of the members seem to feel it is time to join the rest of the rapidly diversifying citizenship of the United States.

Potential lawsuits and protests over a scheduled cable TV show complimentary to Scouting may have hastened the decision. The Scouts are supposed to talk about the switch next week. Look at it as a first step, if it happens, with more reluctant chapters eventually opening their membership to all. And that would be the moral thing to do.

  • Brutality at the Bolshoi. OK, this story, which led the Times Arts section, has all the makings of a good Hollywood whodunnit. For nearly two weeks now, police in Moscow have been investigating the acid attack on Sergei Filin, artistic director of the famed Bolshoi Ballet. A masked assailant threw a jar of acid into Filin’s face and police are interviewing their way through the huge company, looking for clues as to whether the motive was professional or, as is often the case in such attacks, personal.

As is expected with a ballet company that is older than the American Declaration of Independence, the shows, as massive and intricate as ever, have gone on without Filin’s presence. (He’s recuperating and is expected to be able to see again in about six months.) Indeed, the Bolshoi has gone on en pointe through the decline of the Russian empire and the fall of Stalin and the Communist Party, so an internal flareup isn’t likely to upset the rhythm. What is perplexing is the apparent proclivity for Russian assailants to use acid as their weapon of choice. An especially brutal and personal approach.

  • Return to Planet of the Apes. A brief article in the Science section had better news for our hairy cousins. The National Institutes of Health says it plans to retire most of the 451 chimpanzees it has been using for experiments, saving a few for experiments it says can’t be done with other animals. They will be moved to sanctuaries to wait for the rest of their families to join them. Animal rights groups applauded the move as humanitarian, if overdue.
  • The Road to Timbuktu. Until the French decided to liberate the ancient trading city from rebel forces supported by al Qaeda, few (admit it) knew the city was located in the African country of Mali. Hope and Crosby never even went there. But such is the impact of global politics these days that the United States is now looking to locate a base in northern Africa as a home for what the Pentagon says would be unarmed drones. The drones would provide much-needed reconnaissance and intelligence in arid northern Africa, a fertile breeding ground for terrorists. Helping the French help the Malians was the impetus for the U.S. effort. The Malians, with Timbuktu liberated by the French, now have to clear the rest of the northern half of their country of rebels. But at least Timbuktu is no longer just a place that nobody can find on a map.
  •  Return to Planet of the Apes II. This time, it’s gorillas. The prestigious John Newberry Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature has been awarded to ‘The One and Only Ivan,” a story told through the eyes, mind and voice of a silverback gorilla. Author Katherine Applegate decided to tell the true story of a gorilla freed from 27 years alone in a cage at a mall in Tacoma, Wash. Ivan was finally sent to live with other gorillas at a zoo in Atlanta, where he became a celebrity, making paintings and signing them. Applegate decided to tell the story as she imagined Ivan might have. She chose a spare, simple voice, but then, that was, after all, mere guesswork, gorillas being even closer to humans than monkeys. Ivan might well have been more Joyce than Hemingway. At any rate, he died last August at age 50, author of a best-selling autobiography and an acclaimed artist. And that’s nobody’s guinea pig, cousin.

OK. That’s my research report. I don’t know what the Times’ lead story was Thursday, but if the stuff I found wasn’t fit to print, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. Umm, wait a second now, I actually may be … and … never mind. RIP Ivan.

bob@zestoforange.com

 

 

 

 

Of Winners (Aniston) & Losers (Putin)

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Jennifer Aniston ... hottest of them all?

By Bob Gaydos
OK, I know it’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa time, but the world refuses to stop turning and enjoy the moment and I feel compelled to comment on it.

So … maybe it’s none of my business, but I don’t know one male — young, old or in the middle — who would put Jennifer Aniston at the top of his list of the 100 hottest women ever. Ever? As in even when there was no photography or TV or movies to flash images around the globe? That kind of ever?

Beyond the chutzpah of Men’s Health (Did anyone even know about that magazine before this?) putting together such a list, there is the absurdity of declaring it to be a list of the sexiest women of all time. Maybe it’s just me, but Delilah must have been pretty sexy to steal Samson’s locks and Cleopatra toyed with emperors. That’s pretty hot. And while I will give her cute and maybe even sexy, I can’t see Aniston ever playing the role of Helen of Troy. Or Matahari. Now, Angelina Jolie, that’s another story.

All you really need to know about the list is that Britney Spears and Madonna are in the top five (behind Raquel Welch and Marilyn Monroe, either of whom could claim number one) and Sophia Loren is number 47 — behind Paris Hilton! Sacre bleu! Brigitte Bardot is number 75.

The magazine, which I suspect was hoping for recognition of any kind, says it was going for a total package of beauty, brains and talent in making its choice. That’s probably why Kim Kardashian made the list, but Ingrid Bergman didn’t. (Yes, your thoughts on this are welcome.)

* * *

Now that I’ve got your attention, I can move on to other, more legitimate, as it were, news. Like the 45-year-old out-of-work textile worker, upset at receiving no unemployment benefits for a year, who threw his shoes at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a memorial service. Like the reporter who slung his footwear at
President George W. Bush in Baghdad in 2008, the guy missed. Since throwing shoes at someone is a sign of strong disrespect in Arab countries, the shoeing of Bush made sense. But Iran being a Persian nation, the botched assault can only be seen as a poor copycat attempt. The man was beaten and arrested for his efforts and one would assume he will have plenty of time in prison to work on his aim. And while it’s none of my business, it would seem that long-suffering people in the Middle East need a lot more practice in expressing their disappointments.

* * *

Speaking of public protests in unexpected places, what’s with all those angry Russians demonstrating about the results of their last election? Thousands actually gathered in Moscow demanding Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin step down because, they say, the recent parliamentary elections were rigged. A rigged vote in Russia? Really?

With a former KGB head running the country? Hard to believe, but not as hard to believe as the fact that tens of thousands of Russians objected publicly across the country and no one was arrested.

This would tend to support Time magazine’s pick of The Protestor as the person of the year (see how I wove those stories together), from the Arab spring to Occupy Wall Street and Red Square.

A bit of irony, however, in Russia. It seems that the great democratic hope of the Russian 99 percent is Mikhail D. Prokhorov, a billionaire industrialist and owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team. Prokhorov says he plans to run against Putin for president next year. It’s none of my business, but as daunting as that may seem, Prokhorov would still seem to have a better shot at winning in Russia than in getting Dwight Howard to agree to leave Orlando and come play for the Nets.

* * *

OK, you knew I couldn’t ignore the Republicans and their ubiquitous campaign forever. In one of my favorites stories of the year, conservative radio host Michael Savage offered Newt Gingrich $1million to drop out of the Republican primary race.

Savage, who hosts the third-highest rated radio talk show in the country (scary, I know) said Mitt Romney was the only candidate capable of beating President Barack Obama. Savage further said Newt, patriot that he is, should drop out “for the sake of the nation.”

Why should Newt, who leads in the polls of those actually driving the GOP train, step down? Savage pointed to Gingrich’s serial marital infidelity, his performance as speaker of the House (including shutting down the government because he got a bad seat on Air Force One) and his lucrative and controversial involvement with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Sounding like a Keith Olbermann wannabe, Savage wrote that “compared to Obama” during presidential debates, Gingrich will “look like nothing more than what he is: a fat, old, white man.” None of my business, but that doesn’t leave much for Democrats to say about Newt.

* * *

And finally, what would a week be without a proclamation from Donald Trump? The Donald, who famously and ridiculously announced he would host and moderate his own GOP debate later this month, said Tuesday he was dropping out of his own debate. He said he was doing it so that he didn’t have to give up his right to “run as an independent candidate” if he didn’t like any of the remaining GOP candidates. Trump, who was a sort of quasi-candidate earlier this year, said Republican Party officials said he would have to agree to this if he wanted to moderate the debate. He didn’t mention that the only candidates who had agreed to show up for his show were Gingrich and Rick Santorum or that Jon Huntsman, Mr. One Percent in every GOP poll, in essence told him to pound salt. Maybe it’s none of my business, but tell me again why any self-respecting Republican puts up with this lunacy.

Until next news cycle …

bob@zestoforange.com