A Perfect Storm

An authoritarian President attacking the Press

An incompetent, impotent, impeached and authoritarian POTUS emboldened by a complicit senate and party, a global pandemic and accompanying unemployment and deprivation, acts of vicious and gratuitous violence by the public and the police against the oppressed, and large masses of people protesting and letting loose all their frustrations and agony.

A vicious circle of great suffering.

A tormented people must protest peacefully, and sometimes not so peacefully. An incompetent narcissist must subdue the people, for he loves his own voice, and that must, in his ill-formed mind, “dominate.” Violence perpetuates violence and more protest gatherings. The Covid-19 pandemic feeds on such gatherings… hence, more suffering, death, and torment.

And what are the leaders of the States of these United States to do? Curfews? New lockdowns? Or just watch rising infection numbers? See how Arizona is doing:

New Cases of Covid-19 infections in AZ (the y-axis clips the June 2 number, 1127, at 800)

The last week of May in the graphic above reflects an ill-advised reopening of AZ, my state, towards the middle of the month. The day before June 2nd saw 1,127 cases: a number so large the graphic is unable to display it.

But why is this a perfect storm? Why am I so pessimistic, when everyone’s looking for better news? A curse of a truthsayer; one who wishes, with all his heart, to be a soothsayer.

I wish I could make even the feeblest of attempts to say it’ll be alright, everything will turn out for the best in the end. But this is the beginning; we are nowhere near the unknown termination of this prolonged period of agony. Our tribulations stem from incompetence and unmitigated arrogance: the current administration undid every sensible step the previous administration took toward a more peaceful America and world. They tore up the pandemic playbook prepared. Disbanded the global pandemic office that may have acted proactively to keep America safe. The head of government downplayed the pandemic for the longest period he could – presumably because of the election year. America was caught unprepared and leaderless in a once-a-century event; more than 100,000 citizens are dead in 3 months, the economy is in shambles, and instead of reopening gradually, safely, as many other nations have done, we have disregarded many recommendations of the experts in reopening state economies without meeting necessary preconditions for doing so. And, rather than advocating caution, the ignorant head of the administration has been further dividing opinion in the nation and demanding that large religious gatherings be allowed again. He wanted the “Churches filled for Easter.”

So… no, I cannot say that everything will be alright. Nothing is!

In the midst of the pandemic, we saw, in the space of about a week, vicious acts of racial violence against black Americans. A white woman in Central Park, New York City, demonstrated, for all America to see, how she could willfully threaten the life of an African-American by calling cops and filing a false complaint against him. Three white men pursued a jogging Ahmaud Arbery, a young black man, cornered him with their vehicles, and shot him dead. All this upon the excuse that they were executing a citizen’s arrest on a suspected burglar. Cops in the State of Georgia did not arrest them (for two months!) until public outrage reached a crescendo. Cops arrested an unarmed George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and choked the life out of him kneeling on his neck, after handcuffing him, for almost 9 minutes, 3 minutes of which were after he stopped pleading for breath, for life, and had become unresponsive. This too was recorded for all America to see; bystanders who begged to help Floyd were prevented from doing so by cops. Police brutality, a veritable lynching, of the kind seen only during Ku Klux Klan days, was on display in the present for all America to know.

Goaded on by a cowardly bully, who hides behind armies of lawyers and sycophants, cops shoot and harm journalists as they cover protests. More than 100 incidents of police violence upon the press have been recorded in just the past week.

What can the people, exhausted and frightened by the pandemic, sick and tired of a racist and narcissist in office, do when these see such outrages? What can we expect of anyone in such circumstances? What do you think will happen when a pandemic, systemic racism, and rampant police brutality ravage the people while a pretender eggs his base and radical fringes on with calls for violence and “domination?”

A revolution, no less, but an agonizing one.

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Humiliation: A Day Sans Freedom

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An excerpt from ‘Humbling and Humility,’ stories from immigrants to America. FREE ebook May 25th and 26th.

The last paragraph — you just might find it prophetic! It has to do with our instinctive fear of tiny, invisible invaders that ravage our bodies. I have to smile when I think of the CDC’s recommendation of washing our hands for 20 seconds in the current pandemic…I washed my entire body for 20 minutes, then, more than a decade ago, as I recall!

Enjoy, comment, and share as you like…

It was late in the night as I stood on the street corner, awaiting John and Parvathi, who came by soon thereafter to give me a ride home. I apologized for my disheveled, smelly state, and sat away from them in the back of their car. Parvathi pointedly informed me that my wife had arranged for the bail money they posted, but these details mattered little to me. The protective order in place prevented me from going home to see my children.

My wife declared that it would be perfectly alright with her if I did come home to the children. But something deep within my mind cautioned me not to do so. What I had gone through, in the past day and a half, seemed to me only the beginning of a struggle for survival with known and unknown enemies facing me. I asked John and Parvathi to drive me to a second home bought toward the end of 2007 as a gift for my wife and for the family. A house bought as a change we could all move forward with, leaving unpleasant memories behind in our first home. One that could now become a change that tears my home and family apart.

As my friends left, promising to return with food, they handed me the disinfectant, antibacterial soaps, and other toiletries I’d asked them to bring along. For the first and only such time in my life, I coated my entire body, head to toe, with disinfectant, and antibacterial soap, and washed it off in a hot shower, repeating this process once again. Funny how frightened we can be of the smallest of creatures on earth. I scrubbed as I’d never scrubbed before in life. But nothing could wash away the humiliation and a growing sense of disillusionment I came to feel at everything I’d gone through.

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A Raging Inferno

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US Covid-19 Infections and Mortality (2-wk period), May 15, 2020

Numbers often do not register in our minds.

Sure, we remember them, maybe, but they leave no taste, no lasting impression, nothing of significance. They are…just dry numbers.

Someone once said that a poem, with its meter and rhyme, is like numbers singing. Poems do make an impression, they stimulate the mind, and I can understand that insight. Perhaps if numbers moved, if they were aflame…

Even the simplest of animations, a ‘visualization’ of numbers as in the figure,  intrigues the mind. Some note with sinking hearts the large growing numbers, infections and deaths, and may see that deaths grow faster than infections in the same period. Others may latch onto the circular red dots on the map of the US expanding as infections spread in localized clusters in the nation…and deduce, perhaps, that these are likely the urban crowded areas of the country. Some may compute the graph of infections rising and lengthening and grasp that on a logarithmic scale, this is a spread of disease that continues to grow exponentially.

I see a raging inferno, nothing less!

I smell fear, suspended, a heaviness in the atmosphere reminiscent of the beginning of a thunderstorm. I feel…resignation.

These numbers do mean something…1.5 million infected is less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s population, and we’ve lost more than 85,000 souls. Imagine what we’ll lose if 50%, one-half of the population were to be infected.

Let that sink into our consciousness, if you will. And drive us to change our ways, respect everyone’s safety, and contain this conflagration that decimates humanity!

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Compelled by Truth

What is it that they say about the truth?

That it will “set you free?” Or, “Satyameva jayate,” it is only truth that wins? Or Daniel Webster’s “Nothing is so powerful as the truth?” Or that it is “out there,” somewhere?

I am beginning to hate the truth. Of a pandemic, a plague, a pox that has descended upon us all. Its growth in those afflicted and lost is simply frightening.

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Covid-19 related deaths, national trajectories

If you’re thinking: “Oh, look, the curves are flattening,” please – think again…that’s far from the truth. The vertical scale is logarithmic; a straight line indicates exponential growth.

This has scared me enough to compile a 3-page summary information document in the dearly-held hope that it may help communities:

Covid19_community_info

I hope it helps you, my patient reader, and all to whom you forward it. (Please do so with abandon!)

The truth notwithstanding, I shall not leave you in a sombre mood. Here are creative thoughts from others pondering this virulent monster we face:

May TRUTH always be with, and keep you!

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The Truth is Overrated

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Truth and Division in Society

Neil, a student of mine, asked, “What happens to all the energy that is my thought when I die?”

Vanishes like dust in the wind was what came to mind. From dust, stardust, to dust.

But I couldn’t. Neil was young, too young, and the very young do not always comprehend (or do as they’re told).  No, he needed another answer, one that he could wrap his mind around.

“You transform into Energy. From one form to another. That’s an immutable Law of Nature.”

“So my thought energy becomes some other form? Thermal energy?”

“Yeah…there are so many forms, and we do not know or comprehend all of them yet.”

“Right, so I’ll continue to exist in another form?”

“Can’t say, Neil…forms of energy do not have to resemble each other. You know potential energy is not the same as kinetic energy.” We’d been reviewing his high-school Physics.

That calmed Neil’s curiosity. For that moment.

But I see another truth in the exchange. That truth itself may be overrated. The love of truth, that so many researchers and teachers believe in, and trust in, may itself be something that separates us and distances us from everyone. Is such separation, exclusion, desirable?

If you’ve read this far, you deserve to download, FREE this #PresidentsDay, my first work: http://goo.gl/FKUnCM

There’s much truth in that too!

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More Hard Truths

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The Republican Politics of Self-Serving Sycophancy

A Biblical admonishment, Mathew 7:5, goes, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eyeand then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

Nowhere is that truer than in the America of today.

Take Domestic Violence, for instance. There is a zero-tolerance policy toward this bane of civil society, rightly so, perhaps. Men are arrested, prosecuted, and jailed indiscriminately under this decades-old regime. Lives and families are destroyed by both the malady and the implemented remedy: lock them all up.

But WHAT domestic violence? Just that which authorities can easily, readily, prosecute. Here’s where the State, in its quest for law and order, likely destroys harmony and peace in society.

And what of domestic violence of far greater harm, perpetrated by those vested with authority?

Police Brutality?
Institutionalized Racism?
Xenophobia, and Arbitrary Immigrant Detention?
Separation of Migrant Children?
Blockage of Gun Reforms?
White Nationalism?
Racial (White) Supremacy?
Unbridled Capitalism?

And what of demagoguery that feeds many of the above evils? How does the body politic address an elected leader who spews divisive rhetoric, fueling hate and xenophobia? How does America defend a man who invites hostile nations to corrupt our most sacred exercise in democracy, our election of leaders? How do Republicans continue to defend the indefensible, excuse the inexcusable, deny the undeniable?

Time, as Mathew admonished, for the representatives of America and all citizens of this nation, to cast the logs out of their eyes.

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Taking A Side

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Antithetical to American Values

“Stupid is as stupid does.” — Forrest Gump

Let Estupido be his own witness. Here’s Jimmy Kimmel Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OsBOWSjOLsE

Class v. ass…no?

Estupido was rage-tweeting today. 30 tweets in a half hour. Presidential indeed…this unmitigated narcissist is frightened beyond imagination – for the possibility of impeachment followed by conviction in the US Senate grows every day new witnesses to his nefarious actions come forward. And if convicted, and removed from the presidency, he is sure to be indicted on a range of offenses that he escapes indictment for at present due to highly dubious guidance that sitting presidents may not be indicted for crimes. Rage is all he can spew.

Time – high time – for all Americans to choose sides. Continue to be dazzled by his ill-gotten wealth and shocking lack of dignity and grace, or seek a president who truly personifies American values of equality, fairness, tolerance, and justice.

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Hard Truths in Domestic Violence

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Preaching to a captive audience

October 2019 is ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Month.’

A whole month has been set aside for contemplation of this bane of civilized society. Perhaps a realization that an hour-long class or a few such classes may not help us learn what domestic violence truly is. We need a whole month – to think about, discuss, and make changes in our thoughts and actions.

What exactly do folks, and the State, mean by domestic violence or DV? A glance at the activities planned, the marches made, or the articles penned suffices to paint an accurate picture. Men. It’s about how violent men are, how they destroy themselves, their relationships, and their families by being violent in the domestic arena. It’s about overindulgence in alcohol and drugs, about the rampant use of firearms…and ultimately, it’s about the deaths caused – and it is indeed women who often are victims of such overt violence.

BUT – are men the root cause, the ONLY cause, of domestic violence? Can women be violent too, in ways that men are simply unaware or incapable of? Are men just the dead horses beaten endlessly in the public parades about DV?

I think there are some very hard truths to face in addressing this plague in our societies… and I’ve bared my heart about it in ‘Humbling and Humility.’

Download the Kindle version FREE from Oct 1-3, read it, and if it touches you, leave me a review…

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While letting one’s own demons loose

You surely get what’s in the pictures included, yes?

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Independence Day

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A Despot in all but Title

What is your fondest memory of the 4th of July?

For me, a first-generation immigrant to the United States of America, it is a barbecue first. And fireworks, but I’ve detested them – ever since my dad educated me with “Hey look! There’s a $5 note burning. There’s a $10 note exploding in sparks and smoke. There’s a 20 shooting up into the sky, lost forever in a blaze of fire.” A barbecue stays with you, a pleasant memory, provided the sauces are good.

Now, older and with a more thoughtful bent of mind, it is the preamble to the original Declaration of Independence of the founding of this nation.

More specifically, it is these words: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpation, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a desire to reduce them under absolute despotism…” I am reminded that the forefathers fought resolutely against the subjugation of a population to the whims and dictates of any man – and that this is the day they declared their freedom from such tyranny. They did so in a document filled with the ideals that they hoped this nation, as one people, could grow into.

Neither they nor their union of colonies was perfect. Such perfection, they hoped, could be achieved through hard work and industry, and steadfast adherence to a Constitution and a system of governance they established with the founding of this nation. A union, freed from tyranny, founded as a nation of laws.

And this, exactly, is what is in grave peril at the moment. A demagogue, chosen by a mesmerized mob titillated by his racism, barefaced lies, bravado, and flouting of ethics and principles, now usurps every power of this co-equal system of governance unto himself. The rest of his innumerable offences are all in plain view…and those who disclose them are branded “enemies of the people.”

He demands – in stark contrast with the conduct and humility of so many before him – glorification by a Military Parade on this day. Tanks, he demands, and planes, soldiers, all marching in a show presided over by…himself. And he makes this a ticketed, paid, event for those who can pay. He forces hierarchy upon the people in a celebration for the people.

He is a showman and a conman…and he is the greatest peril for this nation.

What will the next Fourth of July bring?

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This is My Neighborhood!

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I never imagined that I’d go through an event like this of this past Friday. It brings Senator Martha McSally’s recent #MeToo revelations immediately to mind. While painful and disturbing, it can be useful: I can now guide my children, and the students I teach, employing this very personal experience. What’s recounted below isn’t meant to be read as a story as much as a detailed and factual narration. There will be more to come as this immigrant works with the local “Protect and Serve” folks…

On the 9th of March, 2019, I drove to an address, 1735 S Glenview, Mesa, AZ 85204, to pick up a shower caddy advertised as available on the social network Nextdoor. It was approximately 7:25 pm and the streets were dark as I drove on Baseline Road toward Mesa. Construction work had reduced lanes on Baseline Road to just one heading west, as I approached Glenview street, and I turned right into this street to get to the address less than an eighth of a mile ahead as my car GPS indicated. This side street was darker than the main road, and I strained to see house numbers as I drove at low speed along the neighborhood street.

I’d passed what appeared to be #1725 and was at #1711 when I noticed a pickup truck overtake me, turn around on the street, and stop at an angle in the middle of the road, boxing me in. Looking up, I saw a driver demanding that I roll down my window. At the same time, I’d noticed a man walking a dog along the street while looking at house numbers. Deciding NOT to engage with this belligerent driver, I slipped past the pickup truck, turned around in the street, and parked beside #1711. As I got down to ask the man walking his dog for directions, I noticed the large white pickup truck get off the middle of the road, move ahead, and park right in front of my vehicle. Once again, this driver seemed intent on preventing me from leaving without some sort of exchange with him.

I asked the Asian gentleman walking his dog for house #1735. As he answered me, I saw the driver of the large white pickup approach the both of us. As he reached us, before saying anything at all, he hit my right arm with his fist and yelled that I was driving too fast in this (his) neighborhood. Taken completely by surprise at his physical violence, I could only manage to say that his behavior was unacceptable and that it may need to be reported. He retorted, “Go ahead, call the cops, and we’ll discuss how you were driving in this neighborhood,” or something to that effect. The Asian gentleman stood frozen while all this transpired.

The belligerent driver from the large white pickup truck was Caucasian, of about 5′ 4” in height, almost a foot shorter than me at 6′ 3”. He sported very closely cropped dark hair and seemed of a rather slight build. I clearly outweighed him and could’ve readily defended myself, but the speed of his violence surprised me. My phone in hand, I again indicated that I’d need to call the police to report this altercation. As I fumbled with the camera “app” on my phone, I noticed him going around and snapping a picture of my car’s license plate. He came around behind me and very violently hit my hand and the phone I held, slamming it to the ground, and shocked me again. He effectively prevented my taking a picture of his license plate, and likely damaged the phone too. I hastened to pick my phone up to ensure it was still functional, while he threatened me with “If I ever see you in this neighborhood again, I’ll beat the shit out of you,” as he passed by me. The Asian gentleman walking his dog had retreated a short distance away, near my vehicle, as all this occurred in his presence.

With my phone’s condition unknown, I memorized his license plate: 8S8XX, an AZ Veteran license plate, white in the background. Having NOT made any eye contact with him, I noticed only that my attacker had on a dark shirt and possibly blue jeans. Verifying that my phone still worked, I saw that the attacker sped away while I called 911 and stayed on the line, reporting as many details as I could remember then until a couple of officers came by into the street. The officers took my statement and asked if I’d like to press charges, which I did. The officer demanded of the Asian gentleman, “You did not see anything, did you?” – while I listened dumbfounded. Upon the officer’s second such demand, the Asian man corroborated my version of events, especially that I had been physically attacked and hit by the pickup truck driver. I showed the officers scratches on my phone cover from the fall, thanked them for responding, thanked the Asian gentleman for his assistance, and walked on to #1735 a couple of houses down the same street.

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