30 July 2022

The Attack of the political gadgets

I live near Chicago, Illinois. On June 28th, Illinois' primary elections to determine candidates for the general elections in November. These elections are often ignored by many voters, but they are incredibly important. Chronically low turnout by independent and moderate voters empowers rascals.

That low turnout, endemic for primaries, has allowed the radical right wing, (that is the white evangelicals,) to turn "primary" into a verb. When Trump or his cultic followers, wants to attack a moderate, or even a conservative, the vehicle is a wacko candidate, (consider Marjorie Taylor Green) endorsed and supported in a low turnout primary. To be, "primaried" is to face such an onslaught. This explains why reasonable, compromise oriented Republicans have been retiring from Congress.

All of Which leads to the current moment. The "Lincoln Project." the Democrat party, and the Democratic Governors' Association have found a new (to me at least) way to influence general elections. They have been campaigning electronically for fringe candidates they think they can defeat. So in Illinois, Darren Bailey who is a State legislator from the rural Sothern part of the State, and a defiant Trumper, was the recipient of significant advertising in the GOP primary. Not because he has a functioning brain, I doubt he does, but because he appears to be an easy target in liberal, union dominated Illinois. I was struck by seeing exactly the same ads running in Maryland.

What I think I am seeing is a new strategy a sort of electronic gerrymandering. This is a way to pick your opponents, precisely what politicians dream of. If, and the GOP is helping here, the opposition primary has one or two real idiots, and the democrats have a solo candidate the democrats can set up a strong general election position.

For me, this is a problem. As a progressive, I cannot imagine voting for Darren Baily who self identifies as a Trump supporter. At the same time, I consider gerrymandering immoral. As I have until November before I have to decide how to vote, I will be interested to see my choice!

03 June 2022

mass shootings

Begin with the first fact: in America, there have been 27 mass shootings in schools this year, while there have been none in Canada, New Zealand, England, France, and Germany, combined. Then ask what those countries  have in common that America does not have. 

Somewhere, someone has to find some courage. I don't know who might finally have courage, but then I live in Illinois where rational gun laws are constantly defeated by the horrible laws in Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin. Not every murder is resolved with the police recovering a firearm, but among those identified and traced, 60% are from out of State purchases, 40% come from one State: Indiana. 

I am not a wealthy man, in fact we qualify as low income. But as Mr. Biden said, "Enough!" We will contribute to any candidate running in a Democratic primary in West Virginia or Arizona. Enough!

17 May 2022


I am gazing on an original work by my dear friend Len. He not only conceived the work, designed it, executed it brilliantly, he arraigned shipping through USA Customs. I am completely unworthy of his spectacular gift. I shall hang it and then make a photo to share with my few readers.

All I can say is, it is an amazing work of great beauty.

26 April 2022

GQP where has integrity gone?

Last week, we were treated (if that is the word) to the spectacle of Congresswoman Margorie Taylor-Greene in sworn testimony repeatedly lying. I am not sure which is less believable: her claim not to recall her conversations with the well-known liars Donald J. Trump and Mark Meadows in the White House, or her claim that even though she joined calls for the MAGA Stop The Steal rally and publicly said that the country should not, "permit the peaceful transfer of power" she had no idea the MAGA bully bigots would riot and is not herself an insurrectionist. In a group with Meadows, Trump, and DiSantis, she stands out for an amazing lack of integrity.

The week also gave us Senator Cruz (R Tx) speculating that Disney Corp's opposition to the despicable Don't Say Gay law in Florida foreshadows cartoons including sexual activity between Mickey Mouse and other characters. Even for Fox and Cruz, this goes beyond a stretch.

As stupid as Cruz is, and he is stupid, there is actually a classic right wing tactic here. He cannot defeat the arguments against the law intellectually, (he cannot do much intellectually) so we see the right wing attack which accuses opponents of being, "groomers." That is, the many progressives who out think them lead children into sexually abusive relationships.

I cannot accuse Sen. Cruz of orriginal thought, or indeed of thought. So where does this particullarly toxic assault on Mickey Mouse come from? It is too vicious, too developed to be sui generis. We also saw something like it in the Q-anon lunatic attack on Senator Clinton alleging a child abuse ring headquartered the basement of a pizza restaurant that does not even have a basement!

Last week we saw it appear in Michigan. Sen. Lana Theis used the same, "groomer" charge against another senator, who like most progressives, routinely thinks circles around Theis: Senator Mallory McMorrow. She chose the wrong target. Senator McMorrow does not suffer slander. In a brilliantly written and delivered speech, she tore the conduct and lies of Sen. Theis to oratorical shreds Theis's response was pathetic.

The lessons of last week are that Trump disciples will say anything no matter how disgusting or hurtful, to gain or retain pow. They are willing to attack the rule of law.

There is a way to defeat them that begins with moral outrage. Not calm arguement but anger calling the Trump followers into sunlight is the path to victory.

13 September 2021

Presence and Leadership

America currently has five former presidents and of course, one president. This is a record as former presidents are often older men. This is a record that is not widely celebrated because one of the former presidents is Mr. Trump. Given his assertion of what is now widely called, "the big lie," admitting he is a former president, or appearing at events where he might be treated one, is a problem.

September 11th this year was the 20th anniversary of the cowardly murder of over 3,000 Americans and residents. Most American media and many politiical leaders joined in commemerating the date. Former president Bush attended the ceremony at the crash site in Pennsylvania. Former presidents Clinton, and Obama, attended the event in New York City. President Biden made appearances at the Pentagon, Pennsylvania crash site, and in New York. Mr. Carter, now 97, and unable to travel, sent the event in New York, his greetings which were read. I am certain Mr. Trump would have been treated appropriately at any of the events had he appeared.

Ethics teachers always warn young people that lies carry their own penalties because once a lie is told maintaining the facade and not admiitting the truth requires more and more lies. Perhaps Mr. Trump has provided the entire country with an example. He can't continue the big lie and accept any appearance as a former president.

Truth imposes its own pernalties on Mr. Trump. At any civic event, Mr. Trump would be seated, and possibly introduced as "Former President Trump," or "the 45th president." He would have to abandon the big lie. His history is that he is always willing to abandon co-conspirators, but not to confront truth.

Truth always wins. Reaching this age and level of experience before finally learning this lesson generally taught grade school kids is another record.

07 August 2021

Diabetic Technology

2 weeks ago, my primary care nurse practitioner introduced me to the Dexcom G6 CGM. "CGM" stands for Constant Glucose Monitor. As near as I can tell, this technology is a spin off from the insulin pumps that some diabetics use.

The G6 uses a small sensor about the size of 2 dimes and about 1/32 inch thick that is attached to the skin by an adhesive tape and a tiny needle. It comes with a precision injector / applicator the use of which is completely painless. Using a Bluetooth transmitter, the sensor reports every other minute, to the smartphone system.

This is transformative. I have been testing my blood sugar (BG) a lot by contemporary standards -- 5 times a day. I have been able to stay touch with my BG and determine how much if any insulin I required. With the Dexcom system I test automatically 12 times per hour! I don't have 5 lancet test punctures in my fingers every day. Instead I have three utterly painless sensor insertions a month. Dexcom have even managed a hypoallergenic tape.

In addition to precision, the app allows me to share the information. So now, in a new and precise way, Sue-z can monitor my BG. I have settable alarms so that the system lets us both know if I am low sugar. We are learning to avoid emergencies, and more effectively control BG.

This has led to some interesting conversations. How should Sue-z react to a critical low warning? When should a combination of a warning and an inability to wake me lead to a 911 call? Should she ever inject insulin for me, or spoon feed honey? Dexcom gives us information that leads to these conversations.

When Drs. Banting McCloud and Best discovered insulin and how it works they changed the life prospects for diabetics. Refinements in treatment including the patient's portable BG meter, and the insulin injection followed by the pump made life expectancy rise and quality of life improve. This system, with the sensor, transmitter, and software, is near the peak of the current technology. It empowers diabetics, family, and medical personnel in a new way.

The bonus is the kind and effective customer service one receives when you call Dexcom. In the world of technology and mass production, this company, and this device are special.

01 April 2021

Hallu Triduum 2021

Jewish  psalms and songs  include a form of praise in the face of adversity called a "Hallu." One such is psalm 113 which cries out praise, there are others which name the pain and difficulty of life and affirm praise anyway. A modern version is the amazing "praise of God in a minor key." 

There is a Christian version, perhaps unrecognized by some, Gospel. Gospel music arises from the horror of slavery, rape, and Jim Crow that was imposed on Africans by whites. In contemporary African American churches Hallelujah often rings out in the midst of sermons. Sermons lamenting pain, loss and horror none-the-less ring out Hallelujah. The songs of praise and pain ring out there.

So how do we praise God when almost 600,000 Americans have died in the last 13 months of Covid? It is not a small question, for the families and loved ones of over half a million people. How do we not fall into outrage, and fury not only at God but at fools who refuse to mask and distance to fight the virus?

Lenard Cohen's brilliant "Hallelujah" is a Jewish answer that should move us all to tears. Sadly, it has moved some evangelicals to substitute Christian lyrics feeding on his music and rhythm. We should not do that! But we do have our own form, and we do share the Psalms.

Authors have been moved to this word before. Perhaps Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is best known in the West. But as we go down to the grave we sing hallelujah and as we mourn 550,000 dead Americans and more than a million people world-wide, we need the minor key of lament, and the cry, "Hallelujah!" We need Holy lament, cries for justice lest we forget George Floyd and other victims of violence, and we need this Triduum, these three days to remember, lament, and praise God. Hallelujah and as Louie Crew cried out in the face of bigotry, Joy Anyway!

St Laika's

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