Monday, December 4, 2017

Surprise! The Media Are OFFENSIVE

by Meg Sonata

Friends tell me they ignore the news  This behavior marks a major change in the American lifestyle. Was it that long ago when citizens rose with the news and fell into bed after it, too? Of course, Walter Cronkite is one thing--endless repetition of the DC soap opera is another--and the latter deserves to earn no ratings wars.



Meanwhile, the internet treats us to this information, hot off the information pipeline which Americans may be incapable of reading for these reasons:
"According to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 32 million of American adults are illiterate, 21 percent read below a 5th grade level, and 19 percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, which means they can't read well enough to manage daily living and perform tasks required ...Sep 13, 2016

Did Public Schools Really Improve American Literacy? - Foundation ..."




Is it offensive to observe that the American Declaration of 
Independence and Constitution were not written for a children's 
book bizarre? 

Is it offensive to observe that illiterate residents cannot read the 
announcement that they are illiterate--and their fellow illiterates 
may not care?

Is it offensive to realize that American media professionals are 
getting paid to serialize the adventures of celebrities' and 
politicians' genitalia? 
If the American media were designed to tell us the same outrageous story for a thousand years, they might deserve forgiveness for being boring, reckless, superficial, and ridiculous. Until they report the state of American literacy, they deserve every ugly accusation that anyone throws at them. 

Even reporters must be illiterate. How else could they endure 
repeating the word "Russia" ten thousand times a day for a solid 
year while their audience learns nothing more than they knew when 
US astronauts could and did land on the moon because Americans 
can be superb at communications, engineering, and math, too?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hot Dogs and Beans--Best Ever?

by Meg Sonata

Let's see if I can blog without somebody taking political umbrage? Are hot dogs and beans a political topic? Are they too upper class or lower class to keep every reader happy? 

I found this tiny can on a store shelf at eye level--obviously a plant designed to make me spring for a trial at least. The label presented this product as exceptional all right: "Hickory smoke" flavor had been added, so I wasn't getting the straight scoop.

Ask me if I care. Nope! That snack was so delicious that my only complaint was that I didn't invest in an annual supply immediately--but how could I when I hadn't tasted franks and beans--that's the old-fashioned term, isn't it?--in decades?

My yogurt kick may just be over! Is brown sugar the secret ingredient--and no, that isn't a political reference!--which transforms an every day convenience into an exotic meal so good that it beats out my former favorite, Chinese chicken and peanuts--and, no, that isn't a political reference, either. 

Ask me if I care again. I dare you! While public snipes may be reviewing every word we speak for a chance to jump on our verbiage, I'm just plotting my return to that store whose owner was smart enough to stock a food which reminds us of a time when camp fires and spooky stories kept kids happy--and begging for more and more hot dogs, beans, and hickory smoke memories. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Word for Our Times: Funitude

by Meg Sonata

A Word for Our Times: Funitude

That word actually exists in the Urban Dictionary. I thought I made it up this morning after reading the news until I couldn't endure further enlightenment on America's current obsessions. In an act of intellectual rebellion, I checked out the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and found this marvelous column by Garrison Keillor, which I recommend if your funny bone is aching for humor, too: "Welcome to the Abyss."  

Must we act grim and nearly apocalyptic to prove our brains are functioning? Garrison Keillor says, No! It's comic relief that we need to demonstrate our frontal lobes haven't cut out completely. It's that little poke in the ribs from a friend who suggests that maybe the world won't end today--at least not until we've finished a decent meal and shared a joke--or not until we've gone for a walk where the Grim Reaper never spends his time--like a Mad Tea Party perhaps, or a song from childhood like "Mersey Dotes and Dozy Doats," which spins us round and gets us off this news cycle of bedlam and hell and unfunitude.

So, here's to a decent weekend: That means we seek that little surprise from a forgotten source like Garrison Keillor, who keeps right on diagnosing modern life as a cup short of sanity. He reminds us that we don't prove our brilliance by acting all snarly and constantly finding fault with the human race. That behavior takes no talent at all. No! It's the capacity to see the big picture which demonstrates even the most basic aptitude for health and happiness. In that big picture of life, there ain't no yin without a yang. So, go for the bright light of morning, even if carrying one's own flashlight comes with the territory. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Calling Agatha Christie to Las Vegas

With all the hubbub over guns, Congress, terrorists, and gambling addicts, the Las Vegas shooting has created a new variation on the one puzzle sure to rivet mystery readers from here to Australia and back. Even the shooting victims--in a most painful kind of extortion of the dead--have been hijacked to distract attention from one key fact in the Las Vegas atrocity. This hideous crime creates a locked room mystery. 

From the first reports to the most recent accounts of the awful tale, versions accumulate of the final 70 minutes of waiting before the SWAT team breached the gunman's door--and discovered his body. Perhaps video recordings will resolve discrepancies, but so far, readers have heard that HE shot through the door at the SWAT team; he killed himself after killing 58 victims and injuring 520 strangers below his windows; and his body, along with 23 weapons, lay on the other side of that door, waiting to be discovered by police.  

The police have explained that they were under orders to wait for the SWAT team to arrive before breaching the door. Meanwhile, no information has so far been released indicating the state of that body which awaited discovery. Was it warm or cold? Had rigor mortis set in, turning the flesh rigid? Analysts have observed that a single individual could not fire 23 weapons and accomplish a massacre of those proportions in the eleven minutes of recorded firing. So, who besides Agatha Christie could solve a crime this complex and baffling?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Create Robots to Replace Ourselves?

By Meg Sonata
          When Harvey and his girlfriend Irma are not trashing the American 

landscape, the skies fill with unemployment alerts. Jobs in restaurants, 


warehouses, and delivery systems are supposedly about to go to robots. 


Uber has announced its thrilling conversion to robot drivers. Educators 


have been warned that they, too, will soon be replaced by mechanical 


substitutes. Sex robots have even popped onto the scene. Meanwhile, 


where are the protests over this scandalous development?
          In the college classroom, I once asked students to vote on these 

scenarios. If they were in the hospital, would they prefer to be comforted 


by a robot or a human being? If they were choosing supervision for their 


children, would they prefer their offspring's guardians to be mechanical 


or human? Unfailingly, their hands shot up to indicate their choice to keep 


society and civilization within the human domain. So why does the media 


now storm us with enthusiastic crusades for robots?
          Have unemployment lines suddenly become THE place to be? Is 

America recruiting H-1B visa immigrants to stand in unemployment lines 


along with their buddies, mechanically replaced American workers? If


mental health experts want new project, how about this? Can they 


discover why anyone would support his/her displacement in their own 


lives? No matter how cute a robot may be, it is not YOU! Isn't that point 


obvious? So how about campaigning—for such a delightful change
to keep life on this extraordinary planet obnoxiously and surprisingly 

human? 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Removing Statues Is Stupid Economics

by Meg Sonata

Will you visit Atlanta and Charleston if they look just like Dunkirk, NY? The latter has no grand statuary to attract tourists--unless they trek off to nearby Jamestown, NY, which indulged in a rare kerfuffle over a commissioned statue of Lucille Ball, the town's guardian saint, since Western New York is NOT famous for its sense of humor.

Okay, once we've taken down all the grand statues and put up the trigger warnings, what is left of an attractive community in the United States? Do you enjoy seeing film of yourselves shoving and being shoved in political contests completely devoid of historical accuracy? No one dares mention Northern carpetbaggers now. They may have been too colorful and unscrupulous to pass the ratings tests. 

Of course, hysterical historical current events are a bonanza for students who always hated history--and the poor teachers assigned to teach history through the seasons as parents complained about "unfairness"--and administrators whined about budgets and buildings and declining revenue. Who needs dates anyway? Aren't they just a fruit which sticks in your teeth? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Milo Hits Bottom

by Meg Sonata

Milo's latest interview may have shattered his career as a popular provocateur. Critics are divided between assessing the flamboyant speaker as "going a bridge too far" or supporting pedophilia. Commentators need to check a dictionary for the distinction between "pedophilia" and "pederasty." The former word contains the root for "love." The latter is the clergy's nightmare. 

This web address allows readers to judge for themselves: <http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/203888/donald-trumps-little-boy>.

So far, the consequences of sticking his well-heeled foot in his mouth include the loss of his CPAC presentation, as well as his book contract. The public awaits the drop of his sophisticated shoe: Will Breitbart fire the glamour boy for hoof in mouth disease? Reports claim that at least six coworkers threaten to walk if Milo is not fired. Will he giggle his way out of a trap which he set for himself?

Milo's recorded words appear to support pederasty. The larger question remains: Has Milo's performance all along been a parody of a stereotype, or an in-your-face confrontation with the stereotype itself? Why wear pearls looped around his neck if he supports equality in the workplace? Why would he paint his fingernails unless he's determined to launch his own drag queen network? 

If he is a parody, what is he parodying? His rapid manner of speech and ability to quote academic sources at length appear to mark him as an intellectual. But what college lecturer comes to class decked out in costume jewelry while he's conducting a philosophical discussion? Maybe his audience got the nature of his attack on sobriety wrong from the start.

If Milo's going to parody a college lecturer, he better be an honest-to-goodness intellectual, or he's going to get caught by his students, who are not dummies, after all. The most obvious conclusion is that Milo was never doing what his publicity said he was. Does he hide a grudge against stereotyped academics behind that famous smirk and raised eyebrows? It's time to come out again, Little Boy. 

See also: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/breitbart-fire-milo-yiannopoulos-senior-editor-pro-paedophilia-child-sex-video-footage-alt-right-a7591281.html>. 

Speculation continues: <http://www.redstate.com/sweetie15/2017/02/20/breitbart-employees-demand-milo-yiannopoulos-fired/>. 

Update: Milo resigns from Breitbart: <http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/02/21/milo_yiannopoulos_resigns_from_breitbart.html>. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wonder Bread and Political Circuses: Are We Rome Yet?

by Meg Sonata

A new book is shaking up the academic empire of Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. That masterpiece of history is available now through the Gutenberg Project. Its complete title is 

HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Edward Gibbon, Esq.

With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman

Complete Contents

1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised)


For the first time maybe readers may pay attention to the date of composition for this classic: 1782, just six years following the founding of the United States of America, when the British Empire was under a siege of rebellion. . 

Now, an impressive British author lends his pen to a subject which was often considered conquered and owned by Gibbon. The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians is authored by Peter Heather and published by Oxford University Press. This volume creates a new duality: Instead of "Decline and Fall," readers are prompted to examine "Rome and the Barbarians" together.  


Before anyone feels it necessary to lecture readers on identity, diversity, and multiculturalism,   provides the derivation of "barbarian" at this blog address: <https://www.altalang.com/beyond-words/2008/10/08/etymology-of-barbarian/>. "Barbarian" originally referred to anyone who did not speak Greek. To Greek ears, foreign languages sounded like "bar-bar." 

Peter Heather offers expertise in his subject for an obvious reason: He has also written Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe; The Restoration of Rome: Barbarian Popes and Imperial Pretenders; The Goths; and The Visigoths from the Migration Period to the Seventh Century: An Ethnographic Perspective--enough literary adventures to last until the Fourth of July. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The FBI and the MIL Game


by Meg Sonata

Did Bloomberg actually claim that police states destroy reputations by releasing private information to the public? This writer thought that activity was known as "The Mother-in-Law Game." Don't MILs infamously interrupt conversations with thoughts like, "Oh, Jimmy, when you took a bath as a baby, didn't you always...." (At this point, Jimmy leaves the room--quickly, which was the whole point of the MIL game). 


Some MILs even ask: "Who's in charge here?" Don't EVER take this question seriously. A correct English translation of that question should read: "Do you mean that, after I changed your diapers for two whole years--cuz you didn't catch on quickly like your cousin Ramone--you are relegating me to Second Chair?" If the FBI and NSA don't already torture suspects this way, they should take notes on the MIL game. 


And then there's the MIL confidence variation of the MIL game: "You really shouldn't have children right now. I'm only telling you this for your own good." or "His father went through a similar period when he hit middle age and lost his mind." Congress and the media have already studied this game-plan since they create parallels with World War II's "greatest generation" or those "insane Nazis" at every untidy turn of the record. 


The last lap of the MIL game is the old "Just tell me what you need. I'm here to help" routine. Just remember: the FBI and the NSA are ALWAYS here to help. So is Mimi, Grandma, Nana, or whatever you call her. And that's why Mike Flynn resigned, and senators are calling for investigations: Because, if the FBI and NSA are collecting private information, and not keeping it to themselves, then there's a whole new reason for calling this pitiful country a "Nanny State." 

                                                                    * * * 


For additional information on Bloomberg's insights into America's unfathomable politics, see: Lake, Eli. "The Political Assassination of Mike Flynn." BloombergView: National Security. Valentine's Day, 2017. <https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-14/the-political-assassination-of-michael-flynn>. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to Save Money on Dog Treats

by Meg Sonata
Does your dog turn up his nose at costly packaged dog treats? Does your kitchen counter contain a canister full of bones and biscuits supposedly chock full of peanut butter and cheese which that dog won't touch, no matter how much you beg? Welcome to my house! 

My dog Mickey, a nearly two year-old basset hound, craves cheese for rewards, but he can't live on cheese alone. He's a great dog, and deserves rewards for excellent behavior, as well as his patience. He hasn't called me "stupid" yet for buying those unused dog treats.

He doesn't call them "inedible." He just literally turns his nose up at them. Then he looks away, as if to say: When will she learn that my standards are higher than the US standards for pet food? When will she take action because too many dogs are suffering from bizarre illnesses, and dog treats are a simple way to institute a correction? 

Our solution began accidentally. I ran out of string cheese, his favorite treat. So I offered Mickey a tiny bite from a homemade biscuit. He licked my hand and asked for more. A light flashed in my mind: Can it be this easy? I had baked a batch of Bisquick biscuits, making them tiny and splashing a hint of Christmas sprinkles over the dollops of dough. 

Well, I was smart enough not to allow him to finish off the batch. This is not an advert for Bisquick. It is a reminder: When it comes to treats--which come second to a sound diet overall for dogs--the solution is right at hand. Your dog may enjoy Southern biscuits as much as you do. He may prefer the Yankee variety. Either way, your ability to improve his diet is as easy as that Frank Sinatra classic. You can do it your way--and make your canine pal ecstatic, too! 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Red Herrings in a Sea of Red Ink

by Meg Sonata

That title describes the state of US education, defense, and journalism. If US students can't read at a proficiency level, does it matter that teachers are employed? If the US military lacks necessary equipment, does it matter how many soldiers march in parades? If US leaders don't know where the country begins and ends, what is left to debate? 

The only winner in the current American chaos is the red herring--and that's not a trendy cocktail treat imported from Norway. Salted herring comes in creamy sauces, and it's delish. Even people who despise fish snatch up this delicacy to impress party guests. Unfortunately, the variety of herring most commonly set before the American public doesn't come in a jar, and it's more expensive than Trump Tower.

The red herring is the specialty of magicians who trick their audience to look THIS WAY when the big event is happening OVER THERE. Meanwhile, what they've got up their sleeve becomes a rabbit, a scarf, or just a giant predator they've slipped onto the stage from under their Congressional table. In fact, red herrings are the specialty of our most famous entertainers. That's how they get clicks, while the rest of us wonder what happened?

The red herring is also one of the most famous rhetorical fallacies, meaning that it will undermine an argument from beginning to end. Its existence in the American media demonstrates the state of American education. Yes, this is a cyclical dilemma: if readers are going around in circles, trying to learn what IS or IS NOT news, they are NOT prepared to vote to preserve the American experience, which cannot be going around in circles, unless hula-hooping has become our national sport. 


So, when confronting the news media, the solution is to ask three key questions:

1. Is this news or cheer-leading? If a presenter is using more adjectives and adverbs than nouns and verbs, this ain't news, Honey. It's paid advertising.

2. Is this news or prophecy? If a presenter is predicting what WILL happen, instead of what DID happen, s/he needs to go into the Old Testament prophet business.

3. Is this news or advice? If a presenter keeps insisting on what the government SHOULD do, instead of what it DID do, sh/e needs to submit a bill for services rendered to somebody--and it's probably not the American taxpayer.