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Hornback's It Says Here

Thoughts, musings, grumps, and serious whimsy from Bert Hornback, of Bowling Green Kentucky, Ann Arbor Michigan, Louisville Kentucky, Dublin Ireland, Amsterdam Netherlands and New Orleans Louisiana.

There'll Always Be An . . .  Thu Jun 30, 2016
THERE’LL ALWAYS BE AN . . .


            “Great Britain” has voted itself out of the European Union.  The “Brexit” side has won a very narrow popular victory.  But things are definitely not settled.
              Of course, England never wanted to be in the European Union to start with.  Winston Churchill wanted an “indissoluble union” with France in 1938—but then the war started.  As a freshman member of the British Parliament Edward Heath made his maiden speech in the House of Commons advocating a European union—and was promoted to a junior cabinet member in Churchill’s post-war government. 
            Europe happened, and eventually Britain joined.  But Britain didn’t sign the Schengen agreement, so Europeans still needed passports to enter Britain.  And when the common currency happened, Britain balked again.  The Queen, the Pound Sterling.  But Elizabeth II is Queen of England, and though English Pounds are worth the same as Pounds from Northern Ireland or Scotland, they aren’t English Pounds.
            Now Britain has voted to secede from the European Union.  Actually, England (except for London and a number of other cities) and most of Wales have voted to secede.  Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against secession, as did London, Gibralter (almost unanimously), Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, York, Oxford, Cambridge, Liverpool, Winchester, Exeter, Cardiff, Newcastle, Brighton--and the Royal Borough of Windsor. 
            The United Kingdom—as a united kingdom—has 65 million people.  England has 53 million—but 9 million of those are Londoners, and the other big cities strongly opposed to “Brexit” hold another 9 million.  Scotland and Northern Ireland have another 7 million.    
            Scotland has announced that it will stay in Europe—and thus disunite the United Kingdom.  There is a movement in Ireland for a referendum on Irish unification—which would take Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom.
            And if Scotland and a united Ireland joined as Celtic nations, they would surely invite the people of Wales to join them—in a Celtic Union.
            And then England would be England.  No more Great Britain.  No more just plain Britain:  the English would be sharing the main British Isle with two foreign—Celtic, not British—states.  
            London’s 9 million are the world’s most diverse population.  And it seems they don’t really want to be British.  Nearly a quarter of them aren’t actually “English,” and more than half of them identify themselves as “Londoners,” not “English.”  Maybe London could become a sort of secular Vatican City (St. Paul’s has long thought itself a rival to St. Peter’s) or a new Luxembourg (London has 14 times as many people as Luxembourg) or a slightly inland version of Hong Kong.
            Why not?  And then the great British Museum, with all its treasures stolen from all around the globe, could become a World Museum:  a glorious monument to world civilization, not imperial plunder.
            Wishful thinking?  Maybe.  But wishing toward decency and civilization.


                                                                                        Bert Hornback 

News Bulletin from  Tue May 31, 2016
News Bulletin from

THE CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PERIPHERAL THOUGHT


The Center for the Advancement of Peripheral Thought has announced a new research project in the Division of Omnology.  Its School of Intellectrical Engineering  is collaborating with the College of Pathelogical Science in a new Psychonomics study. 

Also, according to Professor Bert Hornback, director of the Center, a new inter-departmental postgraduate program in Pathematics and Erotonomics has begun to accept enrollments.   

And the senior professor in the Department of Epistrology is working these days with people in Anthropostrophy.   Results of this collaboration  may or may not   be  forthcoming.



From the Center:  5 May 2016

VOTING IN KENTUCKY  Sun May 15, 2016
VOTING IN KENTUCKY

It was sixty-four years ago.  Sixteen presidential elections ago.  At College High School, Charles English and I were the speakers for Gov. Adlai Stevenson in his 1952 run against Gov. Dwight Eisenhower.  Despite our eloquence on behalf of Governor Stevenson, College High voted for Ike.  Later on that year, when that year’s crop of politicians were swarming around making speeches everywhere, I decided to try my hand at campaign oratory again—for a more mature and thouightful audience.
With one of my classmates as my campaign chief, I set out on a Saturday’s barnstorming trip.  The old Louisville and Nashville Railroad ran through Bowling Green, and there were two fast trains and two slow trains between Bowling Green and Louisville every day except Sunday.  We caught the early fast train to Louisville, and then took the ten o’clock train back to Bowling Green.  The slow train stopped often enough that it took four hours to make the one hundred and twenty mile trip.
Freight trains still had red cabooses then, and on all the passenger trains there was a little sort of back porch on the last car, with a canopy and a railing.  Every time our train came into a town—Shepherdsville, Lebanon Junction, Elizabethtown, Sonora, Upton, Bonnieville, Munfordville, Horse Cave, Cave City, Park City, and then Bowling Green—I stood out there on that little porch and made a speech.
We both wore suits for the occasion, with white shirts and neckties.  My friend would introduce me—I’ve forgotten what my name was—and and announce what they all knew already, that I was running for office and wanted their votes.  There would be a few people standing around—in E-town there were maybe fifteen, counting small boys—and they would listen to me, or at least look at me.  Quit talking, look, listen, and maybe even come up sort of close to the back-end of the train.
I promised them a lot of prosperity, and honesty in government.  And I assured them that good times were coming for Kentucky, and that they would be glad they had voted for me.  And I thanked them from the bottom of my heart, and asked the Lord’s blessing on them and on all of us Kentuckians.
By then the train was probably already moving, so they might not have heard my asking God for his blessing upon us. Which was just as well.  Even in Kentucky, God doesn’t bless fraud—though I’m sure he must know about it.  And about the unChristian wickedness of people like Senator Mitch McConnell.

                                                             Bert Hornback

 Sat Apr 30, 2016
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HONORS MONEY
Ah, Dr. Michael Bloomberg (D. Litt, Honoris Cause, University of Michigan 2016) doesn't like Bernie Sanders. He's cosy with Hilary, though--and if Trump were more of a gentleman, Dr. Bloomberg would like him. Hilary and Trump are both rich--and appreciate being so.  And Dr. Bloomberg appreciates every day--and appreciates appreciating. 
What happened to education?  It certainly isn't now what it used to be.  But I grew up with Father Ted Hesburgh as president at the University of Notre Dame, and then worked and taught in Robben Fleming's University of Michigan.  Maybe I learned what a university was--and should be--from them. 
The University of Michigan (I was a professor there for 26 years) was once a great liberal university. It had Robben Fleming as its president from 1968 to 1980, and he was a great leader, a great educator, a great and good man. But then it had Harold Shapiro, who was a crass, greedy, offensive man and a terrible president. (He supported George the First for president--and in introducing him to a large student audience conveniently forgot to mention his CIA career or his role in Nicaragua.)
And the University of Michigan now has one of the highest paid presidents in the university world. She sets a wonderful example--of GREED--for 50,000 students. Of course she would have Dr. Bloomberg as commencement speaker!
If Mr. Fleming had still been President, Bernie Sanders would have been Michigan's commencement speaker!
Bert Hornback

AMERICAN KNOW-HOW?  Sat Apr 30, 2016
AMERICAN KNOW-HOW?

No.  It’s “nohow”—everywhere, and everyhow.  The question is whether the problems are caused by incompetence or  dishonesty.    If it’s incompetence, that could be traced to the long and highly documented  failure of the educational  system in United States, from kindergarten through high school  through college and university.  If it’s dishonesty, well—dishonesty is  the American Way of Life.

What don’t we cheat at?  How many religious tax-havens are there?   Could the rich be rich                   if they didn’t have lots of lawyers?

And politics?  In 1960 it was the Democratic vote-buying in  Chicago that beat Richard Nixon.   Was anybody satisfied with the Warren Commission’s report on the Kennedy assassination?  Was the 1968 Democratic convention rigged?   How did George W. Bush “win” Florida? 
  
Do you know anybody who cheats  on his or her income tax returns?  Do you know anybody who doesn’t?

Do college basketball coaches know who pays their players?  Of course they do.  They –or  their assistants in charge of that part of  every college’s athletics  “program”—know it:  organize and operate it.

Why can the rich get cocaine so easily?
  
How can the state of Arizona make such a botch of a primary election?  Would anybody be dumb enough to suspect  that  this was just  a “human error” or a “mechanical malfunction”?
I will believe in American political honesty—in the ability of  America to hold an honest election—when Robert  Kennedy is NOT murdered and Hubert Humphrey is NOT the Democratic party’s presidential candidate, and when Al Gore is sworn in as President of the United States instead of George W. Bush.  And when Hilary Clinton comes clean about how much she got from the big banks—and what she told them.

                                                                                         Bert Hornback

                                               

GOD BLESS AMERICA, LAND THAT I LOVE  Sun Apr 17, 2016
GOD BLESS AMERICA, LAND THAT I LOVE

            Millions and millions for electing somebody—to do nothing for poor people in America.  How many hundreds of millions have the rich spent trying to elect Hilary Clinton?  A billion?  And the not-so-rich have spent hundreds of millions more trying to elect Bernie Sanders.  The difference between the Clinton donors and the Sanders donors is that the Clinton donors expect to get all their money back—and more!  The Sanders donors want a decent society.
            Why can’t we have four week campaigns?  Other countries do, and successfully elect governments.
            If we replaced political campaigns with public work, we could begin to rebuild the United States as a decent place to live.   Maybe politics would begin to attract more decently social people who want to rebuild American society.
            Let’s pay members of congress the same thing ordinary workers earn.  And give them the same health insurance and the same retirement benefits ordinary workers have.  (Members of congress have complete health insurance and full pensions for life.  And they have long, long vacations.  And most of them get their “pocket money” from lobbyists.)
            Maybe to protect members of government, lobbyists should be required to register with the police, and have all their gifts and favors registered as criminal bribes.
            Maybe those who want military spending should be required to join the army, or the navy.  (Maybe, too, the navy shouldn’t have an air force of its own—and an army of its own, with an air force of its own!)  Let the militarists join the military.  
And all of those young people who enlist in the military because they have nothing else to do—nowhere to work—could be employed by the government to build schools and houses in our cities, or work on real farms—in agriculture, not agribusiness—to replace the huge industrial farm machines that destroy our land and pollute our rivers and streams and the air we breathe.  
And we could employ a million or more young people to go across America, collecting guns from two hundred million other Americans.
And. . . and. . . once we get started. . . .
Can we have such an America?  Of course we can.  And then the only big problem we will have is the really, really big one of how to get rid of all of our thousands of nuclear weapons.  The United States has been making and storing them now for more than seventyyears.  And everybody knows that the older they get, the more dangerous they are.  So far, we don’t know how old they have to be to activate themselves—but we do know that seventy years is a long time.
How can 300,000,000 get anything so wrong as we have?  We began destroying this continent—and its people—as soon as we got here and those native Americans had taught us how to survive.  And perversely—stupidly—we sang “God Bless America” while we worked against God to destroy both this continent and this world.
The United States of America—disunited as it, with its citizens killing each other by the hundreds every day of the year—is a terrible danger to the whole world.  From its nuclear arsenal to its local home-town murderousness to its air-pollution and earth-destruction to its wide-spread poverty and general maldistribution of wealth to its impossible “national debt,”  everything about the United States is dangerous.

Can we recover?  Yes.  We can.  But we need—all of us, every last one of us—to get started now.

The Chattanooga Choo-Choo  Thu Apr 14, 2016
Do you remember the old song about the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?  It’s a song—words by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren—from the musical “Sun Valley Serenade,” and then  made famous by Glenn Miller and his orchestra during World War II.

                                Pardon me, boy
                                Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo
                                On track 49?
                             Boy, you can give me a shine.

                                I can’t afford
                                To pay to hear your pitter-patter.
                                I got my fare,
                                And not a penny to spare.

                                You leave the Pennsylvania Station at a quarter to four,
                                You read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore.
                                Dinner on the diner, nothing could be finer
                                Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina!

                                You hear the engineer a-whistlin’ eight to the bar
                                And then you know that Tennessee is not very far!
                                Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep her rollin’—
                                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home!

A fun song, a catchy tune—and very much a feel-good song in the 1940s—forwhite
listeners.

But if you are black, you’ll realise right from the start what the situation is, and where you are. 
“Pardon me, boy . . . Boy, you can give me a shine.”  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are still called boy if you’re black.

And the singer—the white guy isn’t going to pay you, either for the shoeshine or the singing:

I can’t afford
To pay to hear your pitter-patter.
I got my fare,
And not a penny to spare.

 That’s a lie, of course:  first he gets a magazine, and then his “dinner on the diner”—which wouldn’t be cheap.   And the waiter will be a black man.  And that black man will serve you your “ham and eggs” the next morning at breakfast.    But he won’t pay that black man—that “boy”—to serve him and sing for him.

                                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home!

                I learned that song as a child, and grew up singing it.  I never thought of it as a white song—simply because I was white, and ignorant of how wrong my world was, and of how insensitive I was in that wrong world. 
                I used to say “yes, sir” and “yes ma’am” to adults—and didn’t know that I shouldn’t, until one Sunday night at dinner I answered Hattie May Collier, the black maid “Yes, ma’am” when she asked me if I wanted more milk.  My dear, sweet, pious Irish-American grandmother reached across and slapped me.   “Don’t you call a nigger ‘ma’am’ in my house!” she said.

                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home.

                                                                                                                Bert Hornback

                                                                                                               13 April 2016Do you remember the old song about the Chattanooga Choo-Choo?  It’s a song—words by Mack Gordon, music by Harry Warren—from the musical “Sun Valley Serenade,” and then  made famous by Glenn Miller and his orchestra during World War II.

                                Pardon me, boy
                                Is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo
                                On track 49?
                             Boy, you can give me a shine.

                                I can’t afford
                                To pay to hear your pitter-patter.
                                I got my fare,
                                And not a penny to spare.

                                You leave the Pennsylvania Station at a quarter to four,
                                You read a magazine and then you’re in Baltimore.
                                Dinner on the diner, nothing could be finer
                                Than to have your ham and eggs in Carolina!

                                You hear the engineer a-whistlin’ eight to the bar
                                And then you know that Tennessee is not very far!
                                Shovel all the coal in, gotta keep her rollin’—
                                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home!

A fun song, a catchy tune—and very much a feel-good song in the 1940s—forwhite
listeners.

But if you are black, you’ll realise right from the start what the situation is, and where you are. 
“Pardon me, boy . . . Boy, you can give me a shine.”  It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are still called boy if you’re black.

And the singer—the white guy isn’t going to pay you, either for the shoeshine or the singing:

I can’t afford
To pay to hear your pitter-patter.
I got my fare,
And not a penny to spare.

 That’s a lie, of course:  first he gets a magazine, and then his “dinner on the diner”—which wouldn’t be cheap.   And the waiter will be a black man.  And that black man will serve you your “ham and eggs” the next morning at breakfast.    But he won’t pay that black man—that “boy”—to serve him and sing for him.

                                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home!

                I learned that song as a child, and grew up singing it.  I never thought of it as a white song—simply because I was white, and ignorant of how wrong my world was, and of how insensitive I was in that wrong world. 
                I used to say “yes, sir” and “yes ma’am” to adults—and didn’t know that I shouldn’t, until one Sunday night at dinner I answered Hattie May Collier, the black maid “Yes, ma’am” when she asked me if I wanted more milk.  My dear, sweet, pious Irish-American grandmother reached across and slapped me.   “Don’t you call a nigger ‘ma’am’ in my house!” she said.

                Chattanooga Choo Choo, won’t you choo-choo me home.

                                                                                                                Bert Hornback

                                                                                                               13 April 2016

WHAT GOD HATH WROUGHT  Wed Mar 16, 2016
WHAT GOD HATH WROUGHT


"What God hath wrought."   It's a verse from the Book of Numbers (23:23) in that strange and foreign and surely un-American book which Jews and Christians supposedly live by. 


                                        
                                  WHAT GOD HATH WROUGHT


"Come see what God hath wrought."  

But this?  Don't blaspheme--or God will send you someplace to burn forever.  God didn't create these United States:  united in greed and hatred of the poor and xenophobic arrogance.   Not these United States, violent and murderous, where everybody has a gun and the nation itself owns more weapons of destruction than all the rest of the world in all of human history.  

God isn't responsible for these United States.  And you can't blame his son--the un-American known as Jesus--for what we have wrought.   Jesus told us--told even the Americans--to love one another:  to take care of the poor, not to steal, not to kill.  

"What God hath wrought."   God didn't  make this.  What we have wrought is not God's work:  not what any god made or created or designed.  We have wrought iron--and destruction, and war.  God wrought love--and life, and peace.

And while I'm at it:  God didn't make the North America than Americans inhabit today.  God didn't make those refuse-concealing mountains in New Jersey--or the Love Canal in New York.  God didn't make those topless mountains in eastern Kentucky, either, or the valleys full of poisoned landfill between them.  God didn't make America's polluted and poisonous rivers  or the air we can't safely breathe.  God didn't make the poisonous pesticides we use to put on the food we eat, or the poor deformed beasts that we eat pretending it is the meat of cattle and chickens.

"What God hath wrought."  False accusation is the sin called calumny, or slander.  We
are the guilty ones.  This world is our doing:  what we have wrought.  And yes, it includes our perverse and unpolitic politicians and their supporters.


                                                                       Bert Hornback

   THE NEW YORK TIMES IS GUN-CRAZY--JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE USA  Thu Mar 03, 2016
   THE NEW YORK TIMES IS GUN-CRAZY--JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE USA


Here's today's  prize New York Times  headline:  "SPAIN'S SOCIALIST LEADER TAKES HIS SHOT AT FORMING GOVERNMENT."

     The headline writers at the New York Times are gun nuts .  Every day somebody "takes a shot at" something in the great American newspaper.  I guess that with gun-shots everywhere and all the time in the United States, living there you automatically think and speak in terms of violence.  And as the leader of sophisticated intelligence in America, the New York Times  has to lead in violent language as well as everything else.

     If you live in the United States, shooting becomes part of your everyday speech.  (And if you live there long enough, you may well get shot.  Lots and lots of people do, every day. ) Everybody in American "takes a shot" at everything--and everybody.  Does Bernie Sanders have a shot at the presidency?  Did Donald Trump shoot himself in the foot with the KKK?  Does John Kasich have a shot at the Republican nomination?  Has poor Ted Cruz shot his wad already?  This is Hilary Clinton's second shot at the Democratic nomination.  If Sanders gets too close to Clinton, they will have a real shoot-out.

     Real shoot-outs happen every day in the United States.  Everywhere.  And most everybody has--and carries--a gun.  Several years ago a  "Christian" minister in Kentucky asked all his parishoners to bring their guns to church the next Sunday--and promised he would be wearing two of his guns.  People drove a hundred miles and more to attend.  The little church was packed with gun-toting Christians, praising Jesus.

     (I remember the World War II song, "Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition."  It was even better than "Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war."  I remember, too,  many years later, clearing out my aunt's and uncle's apartment after their death.  My sister and I found four pistols and a huge rifle--and a big box of dangerously decomposed black-powder shells.  The aunt and uncle lived in a second-floor apartment in a nice, safe part of a town of 50,000 people.)

     Twenty years ago I was in England with my usual group of thirteen University of Michigan literature students.  One was a very good, bright, pleasant young man who always responded to things he didn't like--a bad joke, somebody passing our big van on a curve, noisy drunks in a bar--by pointing his right index finger, raising his thumb, and making a sort of "pow" sound.  One night in Dorchester some of my students were playing darts at the Sun Inn, where we stayed every year for a week.  We weren't very good at darts, but we always played.  Actually, we were so bad we were the entertainment.  That night Jesse aimed his dart, threw, and it stuck in the wall of the bar, about a foot from the target.

     One of the locals guffawed rather loudly.  Jesse looked at him, pointed his right index finger, raised his thumb, and went "pow!"  There was silence in the bar.  And then the man who had laughed said, "Oh.  I forgot.  You're an American."

     The man didn't need to say anything more.  Jesse caught on immediately.  He turned red, ducked his head, and left the room.  I never saw him do his little mime again.

     Maybe the one good thing about selfie-sticks is that their users--mostly Americans--can take "shots" of (or at) themselves.

     I wish the New York Times could quit "shooting" things--or people--every day.

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ELECTING A PRESIDENT  Wed Mar 02, 2016
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT ELECTING A PRESIDENT


WHAT DO DECENT FOLKS DO?



American politics is almost always bad news. If not before the election, most certainly afterwards. One way or another, we make it happen that way. Now, with an election coming, it seems that we are to be offered two candidates, neither of whom should be president. No, that's not right: we are choosing two candidates, neither of whom should be president.

We do elections like football games. Exactly the same way. Players get bought, almost everybody cheats, “winning” is everything. Cheerleaders, lies, screaming fans, lots of news analysts and pundits and slogan-slingers, pompoms and bands, and dirty tricky. And us fans cheer and boo and cry things like “Kill, Bubba, Kill!” Bread and circuses have been replaced by poisonous hotdogs and violent football games.

Now, with another “big game” coming up, the American system--such as it is--is going through an utterly crazy “nominating” process. There will be “party” candidates. But Donald Trump isn't in the same “party” that the others are in. Or maybe he is in the same party Hilary Clinton is in. He is in the ruthless, cocksure, ignorance-first, self-propelling wing, she in the ruthless, smart, buy-me wing. Bernie Sanders is a thoughtful, honest socialist--which means that, in America, he has three strikes against him. Ted Cruz is a mean, nasty, and seemingly stupid oaf. Marco Rubio is as innocent as a Republican can be: a know-nothing with smiles. Ben Carson must be a rich idiot, retired from “practicing” medicine and now running for president without knowing anything about anything. And Chris Christie: an embarrassing opportunist with the tiny mind of an oversized bedbug. Which leaves John Kasich, who seems a decent man, and a thoughtful man.

Maybe Bernie Sanders and John Kasich should run as a ticket. They could do so, by putting thoughtfulness and wisdom ahead of party and political labels. Their values seem much the same. They both seem decent people--maybe the only two decent people in the whole bunch of presidential candidates. And they are both intelligent. Clinton is intelligent, too--but her intelligence is simply smart, not wise, and she focuses her energy on power, money, and triumph.
On the Republican side, if you don't count Kasich there's not enough intelligence or understanding or compassion or decent political trhoughtfulness to fill a filibuster.

Political candidates always run for office promising to “bring us together.” Nonsense. This is football: and when players come together they push each other down in the mud, and step on each other. That's what football is all about. (In New Orleans, two years ago,) professionals got extra pay for hurting each other: but they weren't charged with assault: assault with intent to do bodily harm. Nor were criminal charges filed against the coach who
though up this scheme and ran it.

Let's have a revolution, and put a third pair of candidates on the ballot. Not Michael Bloomberg--but maybe Michael Bloomberg will support their candidacy financially. He is seemingly a good man, even if he is immorally rich.

Let's find a way out of this mess, and vote for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich. And to hell with “Democrats” and “Republicans.” Let's elect Bernie Sanders and John Kasich to bring us together.

Bert Hornback



WHAT DO DECENT FOLKS DO?  Wed Mar 02, 2016
WHAT DO DECENT FOLKS DO?



American politics is almost always bad news. If not before the election, most certainly afterwards. One way or another, we make it happen that way. Now, with an election coming, it seems that we are to be offered two candidates, neither of whom should be president. No, that's not right: we are choosing two candidates, neither of whom should be president.

We do elections like football games. Exactly the same way. Players get bought, almost everybody cheats, “winning” is everything. Cheerleaders, lies, screaming fans, lots of news analysts and pundits and slogan-slingers, pompoms and bands, and dirty tricky. And us fans cheer and boo and cry things like “Kill, Bubba, Kill!” Bread and circuses have been replaced by poisonous hotdogs and violent football games.

Now, with another “big game” coming up, the American system--such as it is--is going through an utterly crazy “nominating” process. There will be “party” candidates. But Donald Trump isn't in the same “party” that the others are in. Or maybe he is in the same party Hilary Clinton is in. He is in the ruthless, cocksure, ignorance-first, self-propelling wing, she in the ruthless, smart, buy-me wing. Bernie Sanders is a thoughtful, honest socialist--which means that, in America, he has three strikes against him. Ted Cruz is a mean, nasty, and seemingly stupid oaf. Marco Rubio is as innocent as a Republican can be: a know-nothing with smiles. Ben Carson must be a rich idiot, retired from “practicing” medicine and now running for president without knowing anything about anything. And Chris Christie: an embarrassing opportunist with the tiny mind of an oversized bedbug. Which leaves John Kasich, who seems a decent man, and a thoughtful man.

Maybe Bernie Sanders and John Kasich should run as a ticket. They could do so, by putting thoughtfulness and wisdom ahead of party and political labels. Their values seem much the same. They both seem decent people--maybe the only two decent people in the whole bunch of presidential candidates. And they are both intelligent. Clinton is intelligent, too--but her intelligence is simply smart, not wise, and she focuses her energy on power, money, and triumph.
On the Republican side, if you don't count Kasich there's not enough intelligence or understanding or compassion or decent political trhoughtfulness to fill a filibuster.

Political candidates always run for office promising to “bring us together.” Nonsense. This is football: and when players come together they push each other down in the mud, and step on each other. That's what football is all about. (In New Orleans, two years ago,) professionals got extra pay for hurting each other: but they weren't charged with assault: assault with intent to do bodily harm. Nor were criminal charges filed against the coach who
though up this scheme and ran it.

Let's have a revolution, and put a third pair of candidates on the ballot. Not Michael Bloomberg--but maybe Michael Bloomberg will support their candidacy financially. He is seemingly a good man, even if he is immorally rich.

Let's find a way out of this mess, and vote for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich. And to hell with “Democrats” and “Republicans.” Let's elect Bernie Sanders and John Kasich to bring us together.

Bert Hornback



                             A PROBLEM?  Sat Feb 20, 2016

                             A PROBLEM?


     "How do you solve a problem like Assange?"

     Only an American news agency could write that headline.  Julian Assange isn't  a "problem." 
He is an honorable human being, whom the United States government wants to torture and imprison for being honorable.

     The Swedish government wants to "question" Assange about a sex crime.  They want him extradited to Sweden.  But if he agrees to go to Sweden, he will be kidnapped and transferred to America where he will be imprisoned, tortured, and eventually tried and convicted of telling the 
truth about American crimes against humanity.

     The United States has already sent Bradley Manning to prison for thirty years for releasing evidence of American war crimes--including films of the mass murder of civilians by U. S. troops.  

     Had Manning NOT released the evidence he had, his failure to do so would have been a serious crime.  In U. S. civil law the crime is called being an "accessory after the fact."  Under the U. S. Uniform Code of Military Justice the crime is called "misprision of a felony."  In both jurisdictions, the failure to report a felony crime is of equal gravity with the felony itself, and has the same maximum punishment.

      Nobody, of course, would expect the U. S. government to enforce its own law.  The U. S. government is the responsible felon.  If Julian Assange leaves the Ecuadoran Embassy he will go either to Sweden and then to the United States, or simply straight from London to the United States.  And he will be tortured in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, and then locked away in prison for the rest of his life.

      Why?  Because he will have revealed the evidence about U. S. war crimes.    

     Only from an American perspective is Julian Assange "a problem."  He is an honorable man (questions about "sex crimes" are only questions) whom the United States government wants to silence
because he has evidence of U. S. war crimes.

     Julian Assange ISN'T "a problem."  But the United States is such.

                     


  

 Thu Feb 04, 2016

JULIAN ASSANGE, BRADLEY MANNING, MURDER BY DRONE.


President Obama presents himself as an honorable man.

But he commits murder by drone.  Justice?  Trial?  Or just the assassinations carried out by a rogue state?

And Bradley Manning.  Without his being brought to trial, President Obama said, publicly, "He broke the law."  Justice??

Had Bradley Manning NOT "broken the law," he would have committed a felony offense--under both US Civil Law  and the Uniform Code of Military Justice--by failing to disclose his knowledge of presumed felony offenses.

Of course, NOBODY in the United States cares.  It is a ROGUE STATE, a nation without laws.  

And Americans don't care.

Every silent American is guilty of imprisoning Bradley Manning, a brave American hero.

Every silent American is guilty of keeping Julian Assange locked up safely in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.  If he goes out, he be captured by British toads, turned over to Swedish toads, and sent off to the USA to be illegally prosecuted for revealing criminal activities by the Obama  administration.

Does  anybody in the United States care?  Of course not.  

God bless America--north and south of the US border!

Never could I have imagined this as a child, as  a young man.  Not even in the  Johnson years, or the Nixon years.  Sure, Johnson and Bush I went to war based on lies, and Bush II simply because he wanted to go to war.  But since then?  








 Wed Dec 30, 2015

News.  It's a simple word--and not at all a new one.  The “new” has been with us for more than twelve centuries in English, and was a recognizable Sanskrit word six or seven thousand years ago.   And in its plural form, as “news,” we have     been using it in English since the fifteenth century to refer to tidings, happeningsor occurrences in time.

In our present, most of the news isn't new or news at all.  In the United States,  murder isn't news:  it's an hourly occurrence.  

And at this point in history the United States as a nation has been at war--          actively engaged in killing people--since George H. W. Bush decided to invade     Iraq for oil twenty-five years ago.  The only respite was during Jimmy Carter's
presidency--and Carter tried to start World War III with his attempt to free fifty CIA agents being held (with multiple passports each) by young Iraqis in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Carter's invasion would likely have caused a
massive
Soviet response. What saved the world was American technology: all of Carter's helicopters crashed in the desert, having sucked too much sand up 
into their engines while they were flying in below anybody's radar.

 In today's world, war isn't news.  Murder--even mass murder--isn't news.  Thirty years ago Detroit television stations quit reporting single homicides on the         nightly “news” programs because there were too many of them.  So they only     reported multiple homicides--otherwise known as mass murders:  they were still “news.”  Now American “news” programs are filled with stories of mass            murders and war-murders--which aren't “news” 

President Obama is horrified by his nation's violence. Soon he will do somethingabout it. He might start attacking American murderers with his drones. Or maybe suspected American murderers, or American murderers-to-be. It won't matter who his drones kill. The President has experience saying “I'm sorry” when he kills innocent people. Maybe drones can be equipped somehow to express his apologies even as they explode.

I am not suggesting that we just ignore violence--or not report it. But it should be reported as BAD NEWS. And MORE BAD NEWS. And for good news, the President could stop all of his wars, ground all his war-planes and murdering drones, bring his military home from Germany, from Okinawa, and from his torture camp at Guantanamo. And the United States Congress could repeal the second amendment to the United States Constitution, and ban guns.  

America should take down the Statue of Liberty--and replace it with a dedicationto Freedom and Justice.  Liberty is not a virtue:  it is not a social word.   Liberty  is a self-centered word; it is a libido word, a “what-I-want” word. Freedom and   Justice are both beautiful, good social words.  Freedom is a friendly word--free  and friend have the same Germanic root--and Justice is a word for joining           together.   
 But we have forgotten what those words mean, and what their value is.  We      chant “Kill, Bubba!  Kill!” at football games.  When we get a lot of money we       “make a killing.”  And maybe I say, “Oh, I would kill for a piece of my mother's   fried chicken!”  And athletic teams proudly call themselves “Warriors.”  Violence isn't news.

We could make news--real, good news--if we tried. And if enough of us tried it, we could spread our news--and broadcast it the way farmers used to broadcast seed on their fields or corn for their chickens.

Happy New Year, everybody.  And Good News!!!

                                                                      Bert
                                                                                 



YOU CAN'T IGNORE IGNORANCE  Wed Dec 30, 2015
YOU CAN'T IGNORE IGNORANCE

     Well, most people do ignore ignorance.  If they didn't--if we all paid attention and tried to make things make sense, the world would probably shut down.  At least what we call "the media" would shut down.

     I just scanned through the current Google news page.

     First, this headline:  "Nonfatal Opoid Overdose No Bar to Further Prescriptions."  This, from Medscape.  If you get a fatal overdose, your doctor won't renew your prescription.

     And this, from Huffington Post--which is usually thoughtful:  "Congress Pushes NASA to Build Deep Space Habitat for Mars Mission."  That "Habitat" in deep space is no doubt needed to house homeless Americans, but the Huffington Post failed to mention that.

     Or this bit of unqualified news, from USA Today:  "US says Iran tested rockets 1,500 yards from American Warships in the Strait of Hormuz."  Shouldn't USA Today have noted--just to keep us properly informed--that the very narrow Strait of Hormuz is the southern border of Iran, and that those American Warships were more than 12,000,000 yards from the nearest US border.  What are US warships doing 7,000 miles from the US?   

     What would happen to the USA if  people in  "the media" were thoughtful?  And at least tried to make sense of things?

                                                              Bert Hornback

SOME ISSUES AND SOME PROBLEMS WITH THEM  Wed Oct 28, 2015
SOME ISSUES AND SOME PROBLEMS WITH THEM


     I just read about a professional athlete in America who has an "issue" with his shoulder.  I have a problem with that.
     I realise that most Americans are afraid of problems.  They can't face the fact--not just an idea, but a fact--that gun violence in America is a terrible epidemic, much worse than AIDS or any other disease ever was.  Americans can't face the fact that the first Bush's greedy, arrogant oil-war against Iraq has been going on now since 1992.  They can't have bad news:  they are too insecure for such.  The closest Americans ever get to a problem is McDonalds--which isn't a problem at all.  It's not even an issue. Americans want McDonalds, all day every day.

       The U. S. Constitution guarantees that Americans can't have problems.  They can all have guns, and they can print as much paper money as they want to.  And God blesses America--and nobody else:  the U. S. Constitution guarantees that, too.

       Everything is all right in America.   Problems are forbidden.  The word has been removed from American dictionaries.  (That was needless; Americans don't read--they only watch commercials.)

      America is a land of issues.  There is nothing seriously wrong with anything in America.  Just a few minor issues:  national bankruptcy, guns, forever wars, guns, poverty, guns, murder, guns, pollution, guns.  No problems, just a few issues.






ON OPEN LETTER TO MR. OBAMA WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO HIS BOMBING A HOSPITAL  Sun Oct 04, 2015
ON OPEN LETTER TO MR. OBAMA 
WRITTEN IN RESPONSE TO HIS BOMBING A HOSPITAL




 Mr. Obama:

STOP KILLING PEOPLE.  Don't go to church this morning; instead, STOP KILLING PEOPLE.

Stop your wars.  Ground all your war-planes--and your new favorite murder-weapon, the drone.

And if you don't have the moral courage to do that, then resign--and let a moral man take your place and call the halt to military murder.  (We can trust Mr. Biden.)

You are the person in charge.  You can stop it all, today.

Your "I'm sorry" is about as cheap and stupid as saying "stuff happens."

All your weapons were designed and built to KILL HUMAN BEINGS.  And they all belong to YOU.

STOP KILLING PEOPLE.  

YOU are the president.  YOU are responsible.

STOP KILLING PEOPLE.  

MURDER is not made legitimate by high office--or by U.S. citizenship.

STOP KILLING PEOPLE.  STOP MURDERING PEOPLE.

Should I be polite and say "please"?  Of course not.  This is not a matter of your royal pleasure.
This is a moral, civilised command:  a human demand.

                                                                    Bert G. Hornback 

"OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM  Tue Aug 25, 2015


     "The Star-Spangled Banner" is not really a very good anthem.  Not only is is too hard for
most people to sing--the range is to great--but it's a war song.  And we have had more than
enough wars. And more than enough boasting, too:  "the land of the free, and the home of
the brave."  Don't forget slavery, and what we did--and are still doing--to Native American's.
We have not only slavery in our past; we have genocide.

     "God Bless America" is not much better, though it is shorter.  We sure don't want "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," or "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (borrowed from the unmusical English).

     How about "America the Beautiful"?  The first verse will remind us of how beautiful this
continent we occupy once was.  And what it asks--of God--is that he "crown our good / with brotherhood."  In such a murderous country as ours is, we could use more "brotherhood"--and "sisterhood."

     The second verse is even better--if you forget the racism of "pilgrims' feet"  which marked a "thoroughfare for freedom" across what our white ancestors saw as "wilderness" but the Native Americans knew as "home."  Of course "freedom"---the same word as "friendship," historically
--would not have let us massacre Native Americans along that thoroughfare.  But the last lines
of the second stanza of "America the Beautiful" are very, very good--and we need them:

                                America! America!
                                Amend thine every flaw!
                                     Confirm thy soul
                                     In self-control,
                                Thy liberty in law!

       That would be a wonderful anthem.  Even a prayer--a prayer I would be very happy to pray, fervently.
                               


                 






New Books!  Mon Aug 24, 2015


I do have lots of things to say--and a bunch of new essays that I need to post.  But I have been busy
with two new books, just out.

           ANEMONES MY FOOTSTOOL:  ESSAYS LITERARY,
               SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND POLEMICAL

                                               and 

                              OH, TO BE A 'CELLO!

The first book contains ten essays, mostly literary--but then literature is usually social, and both concerned with and a part of culture, and it is sometimes--maybe often--polemical.

The second book contains thirteen essays, variously "about" music, and thirteen poems--by
Yeats, Masefield, Lewis Carroll, Donne, Tennyson, Hardy, Wordsworth, and Mrs. Leo Hunter.

They should be available through bookstores and internet bookstores like Amazon.

And beware:  there is another book of Dickens essays in the offing, to be called  In the World to be of It.

                                                                       Yours,

                                                                       Bert Hornback

COMMONWEALTH IS A GOOD WORD  Thu Jun 18, 2015
COMMONWEALTHIS A GOOD WORD

Commonwealth is a word that has been in use in the English language since the late fifteenth century. And it has been a goodword: good being itself a social word, from the same root as gather andtogether. Massachusetts and Kentucky are commonwealths, not just states. As commonwealths, they are dedicated to the common good. The motto of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.”

We have perverted the idea of wealth, however. Wealththese days is what every American is supposed to pursue for himself or herself--and to hell (or poverty) with everybody else. And thus we get Donald Trump.

Of course, Trump is a minor leaguer. His bragging about having $9,000,000,000 is silly, in the grand scale of American greed. Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are each worth ten times that. They sit on fortunes of $90,000,000,000 each.

There are currently 45,000,000 Americans living in poverty. That's 15,000,000 households or families. Suppose Buffett and Gates gave each of those 15,000,000 families a thousand dollars. That would cost them $15,000,000,000 each--and they would still have $75,000,000,000 each, which would earn as much as the $15,000,000,000 that each of them gave away.

But neither Buffett nor Gates is going to live forever, so they can afford to give a lot more than 16.5% of their hoardings. Let's have them give away 90% of their hoardings--and they will each still have more than the bragging peanut-vendor Donald Trump.

Or let's give them three years. The first year Buffett and Gates can each give $3,000 per household to the Americans living in poverty. That will cost them $45,000,000,000 each--half their wealth. And those poor families will have an extra $6,000 each.

The second year, Buffett and Gates will have $45,000,000,000 each plus the $5,000,000,000 that their fortunes have earned for them--without their doing any work at all! So they can each give $2,000 per household to those living in poverty. That will cost each of them $30,000,000,000--and leave each of them with $20,000,000,000.

The third year they can each give $1,000 per household to those living in poverty. That will cost them $15,000,000,000 each--and still leave each of them with more money than Donald Trump has!

Of course, even this kind of giving won't eradicate American poverty. But if we use it as a model--for all American billionaires, and maybe even for millionaires, in threee years' time we could make the United States a commonwealth,and even a functioning society.


 And if we could do that, then maybe we could all turn in our guns!

HOW TO MAKE A HORSE RUN FAST?  Mon Jun 08, 2015
HOW TO MAKE A HORSE RUN FAST?


When American Phaorah was just a colt, another horse bit half his tail off.  

Ever since American Phaorah has been afraid of other horses behind him:  It might happen again!  So he runs--and he runs fast, to keep them off his tail.

                                   

FEED MY LAMBS, BUT ONLY IF THEY CAN PAY  Wed Jun 03, 2015
FEED MY LAMBS, BUT ONLY IF THEY CAN PAY

Aurora, Colorado is an American city of 345,000. It has a 5% unemployment rate. It has a six-week free summer concert program annually. Its best hotels have rooms for $500.00 per night. And at Dakota Valley Elementary School in the Cherry Creek School District, Della Curry was fired from her job in the school's lunch room for giving a free school lunch to an elementary school child who didn't have money to buy lunch.

Isn't there something ABSOLUTELY wrong with a city with a new “resort and convention hotel” and boasting of having a dozen colleges and universities, but which can't allow a city employee to give a hungry kid a school lunch?

Isn't there something ABSOLUTELY wrong with the school managers who fired
Della Curry at Dakota Valley Elementary School for giving a hungry kid a school lunch?

Couldn't the principal have paid for it? Or one of the seven vice-principals? Or even maybe a teacher?
Not to mention President O'Bama, who has billions of dollars a day to spent on bombs and drones and other weapons and surveillance devices.

Maybe President Obama should use some of his expensive surveillance devices to discover how ABSOLUTELY wrong this whole country is.

Maybe Warren Buffet could pay for a few school lunches. He could feed all the hungry kids in America, every day, and not spent even the interest he earns every day. And Bill Gates likewise.

Isn't wealth like theirs ABSOLUTELY wrong?

Instead of contributing to politicans and their election campaigns, Americans should give their money to feed poor children school lunches.

Why don't we just NOT ELECT anybody to office this year? As a nation, we would save enough money to bring everybody up out of poverty. And if we did away with high-tech weapons of mass destruction we could have mass assistance--and good instruction--for all of our school children, and for their parents as well.

If we actuaally need a president, let's have Donna Curry, formerly of Dakota Valley Elementary School in the Cherry Creek School District in Aurora, Colorado. She wants to feed the hungry. Let's let her lead us.

Or are we all too stupid--and too stupidly selfish and mean--to want to change? Are we as greedy as Warren Buffet or Bill Gates--or the person in Aurora, Colorado, who fired Donna Curry?


3 June 2015  



Academin Nuts  Tue Jun 02, 2015

ACADEMIA NUTS

 

News from the Department of Nutritional and Intellectual Science

 at the Center for the Advancement of Peripheral Thought

 

            Saarbruecken, 2 June 2015.  Working in cooperation with Artificial Intelligence and Distraction scientists at MIT and Infectious Disease researchers at PSI, scientists in the Department of Nutritional and Intellectual Science at the Center for the Advancement of Peripheral Thought have discovered a potential cure for the most ravaging of academic diseases, Ismism.  In its various forms, Ismism incapacitates thousands of academics--mostly in the Humanities--every year.  Now there may be a cure for this debilitating and obfuscating disease.

            Severe acadismal academicism and exponentially infectious ismism among academismists lead to scholaritis, pseudoscholaritis, and acute pseudoscholarly ismism and ismitis. 

             Researchers wearing earplugs have developed a cure for these maladies by electroshock elimination of bollyglobs of fructifying ismgism and a simultaneous infusion of intravenous literature.

             Preliminary results indicate that this treatment results in more than 99.44% speechlessness among ismism-addicted academismists treated for more than thirty consecutive days.  Chief researcher Prof. Dr. Clarence Peach, though pleased by the general success of this regimen of treatment, says that the most seriously infected ismists may have to spend the rest of their lives in treatment. 

            Daisy-Belle Monitor at the World Air Pollution Control Center welcomed the news.  “Most academic speech can be classified as useless noise,” she said; “some of it is listed by the Bad Language Institute as grade one anti-communicational nonsense.” 

 

                                                                   -0-

SPEAKING OF TONGUES  Tue Mar 24, 2015
SPEAKING OF TONGUES


            “Speaking in tongues” is an old trick.  The ancient Greeks must have done it, since they used the word:  a word for babbling with the tongue.   “Babble”  is either an onamatopoeic word like “blab” or “burble”—a nonsense sound—or it has as its source the Tower of Babel in the Western Bible.  Jesus’s apostles supposedly spoke in tongues when the Holy Ghost sat on their heads on Pentecost. In later Christian times, it has been associated with inspired talk, presumably in a language only God can understand, and is reverenced. 
            Religions often reverence things that can’t be understood:  like Athena being born out of Zeus’s forehead, or the virgin birth of Jesus, or the Christian idea of three persons in the one god.  Those are all imaginable, even if they are illogical or unnatural.  But speaking in tongues—babble—is well beyond that.  It doesn’t communicate anything, and nobody ever bothers to write it down.  Still, in some traditions it is reverenced.
            But speaking of  tongues, maybe we should think about the ways the animal world—not including humans, for the most part—speaks with tongues.
            Humans use their tongues to turn the noises that breathing and the voice box make into various different sounds, which become words and language.  And human have become clever enough to translate those mostly tongue-differentiated and tongue-controlled sounds into symbols, and sometimes to write them out.  Many children use their tongues—unconsciously—when they are learning to write, making lingual gestures which might be linguistic gestures
            Western languages share an “alphabet”—which, as a word, must be the most absurd bit of babble ever recorded.  It gets its name from the first two letters  for the ancient Greeks, alpha and beta.  There is no reason, of course, why they should be the first two letters.  “O”—or “OM”--has a long tradition of being considered the first sound, the original word of the God.  “I” is a straight line, a simple part of the circle:  it might have been a good place to start, especially as it is the me-word.  And all language comes from a self.  It isn’t a separate creation.
            The oldest of the Western languages, Sanskrit, from maybe five or six thousand years ago, has a very carefully logical ordering of sounds and the letters that represent them.  (In the West, with a nice blend of ignorance and arrogance,  we call the Sanskrit letters an “alphabet.”)  And the Korean language has a similar ordering of its sounds, thanks to King Sejong, a fifteenth century king, who learned the Sanskrit lettering system from Buddhist monks in China.
         But animals—or some of them, anyway—speak with their tongues, or with their wet noses.   Being kissed by a dog may be sloppy, but it’s reliable.  Dogs don’t do Judas kisses.  And though cats licking each other at bath time isn’t kissing, it is both friendly and seemingly pleasurable both for the licker and the licked.
            Humans say that snakes are not trustworthy:  they “speak with forked tongues.”  But snakes lie on their bellies, not with their tongues.  Snakes aren’t talkers at all.  Human tongues are the ones that lie—so why do we malign reptiles for having forked tongues?
            When humans say that someone speaks “with a crooked tongue,” they mean that the crooked-tongued person can’t be trusted.  Although there are untrustworthy animals of various kinds, we don’t identify them as being so by their having crooked tongues.  Even monkeys don’t use their tongues to play tricks.
            With the exception of humans, the animal world seems to have honest, trustworthy tongues.   Does our more elaborate intelligence enable us to misuse our tongues?   Sure.  It’s not just a matter of our giving false kisses.  Look at all the dishonest things we say!
            “I love you” frequently doesn’t mean what it says.  Indeed:  as saying go it’s about as trustworthy as     “I O U,”  among humans.   And the saying “Speak softly, but carry a big stick” doesn’t suggest that what we say is worth much, or to be trusted.  And “Telling lies,” we say, “is easier than telling  truths.”  Our language is so full of sayings that promote dishonesty that we should probably call tongue a dirty word.
             Speaking of tongues, perhaps what we should say is that maybe we would be better off if we didn't.
               

A FABLE FOR OUR TIMES  Mon Mar 23, 2015
A FABLE FOR OUR TIMES

            A little boy was playing on the beach.  He decided to build himself a sand castle.  He would be its king, and its walls would defend him from invaders coming in from the sea.
            
            He started  scooping sand up around himself to build his castle’s  walls.  He built them well, packing them tightly so he could build them tall.
            
            As he built his walls he was also digging the moat around his castle.  But as the walls became higher and higher and the moat became deeper and deeper, he couldn’t reach any more sand to build with.  So he started scooping sand from the floor of his castle, and adding it to his walls.  Soon he was standing on his tiptoes, and stretching up as far as he could, adding more sand.

            When he had dug so far down that he couldn’t build his walls any higher, he declared his castle finished, and sat down in the hole he had dug, and looked up, admiringly, at his walls.

            And he sat there.

            Then some other kids walked by, and kicked it down, on top of him. 

            They weren’t bad kids, just kids.  And one of them wrote with his toes in the sand, “God Bless America.”