Saturday, January 27, 2018

Another Good Man Gone

I was planning on telling another amusing tale from my wild and wooly days in the midwest, but it looks like I have to write another eulogy for an old friend.  Damn. 

Mary Creasey phoned me yesterday to tell me that her husband John had died.  It wasn't unexpected -- he'd been in a nursing home for nearly two years, trying to get his weight and blood-pressure down, and a couple months ago he had a neurological "incident" that behaved like a stroke, and since then he'd had one organ failure after another -- but, dammit, it was still a jolt.  The last time I talked to him he was bragging gleefully about having lost a whole 105 pounds, and I joked about not recognizing him when I saw him next.  I was so sure he was getting better!  I imagined that in another month or two he'd finally get the knee surgery, and be able to walk, and could go home again and take up half the reins of Random Factors Ltd., and we'd get those albums started...

Not to be.  Not to be.

Now everything's changed.  We'll get the albums done, just not as soon or easily as we'd hoped.  Random Factors will go on, so will the family, so will all of us, but it will be a lot harder.  I was hoping, last year, to get him to sing bass back-ups on the remake of Firestorm;  he had probably the best bass voice in southern-Cal filk-fandom.  And he did the marvelous photos for the cover of the two Kipling-album CDs.  And how I wish he'd written down all those incredible stories about his growing up in Ethiopia where his family worked on the country's first commercial airline, or his mother's tales of being an army nurse in World War Two, or his fascinating work with the little company that makes gas-flow regulators for spaceships...

And there was all the work he did in fandom, and not just in co-creating Random Factors.  I confess, I talked him and Mary into doing that, after Off-Centaur fell apart.  Other filk-publishers have come and gone, but Random Factors has lasted.  It needs to last, and not just for me and Mary, or to preserve/archive the works of filkers come and gone.  With all the changes wrought by the advances in the technology, the near-instant dissemination of MP3s, then near-infinite storage possibilities, the question of how anybody's going to make money selling what's running free on the Internet -- still, somebody has to do the original recording.  There still have to be CDs.  John was working on some ideas about that, but he never did write them down.  Now it's up to us. 

...For some reason I keep remembering a whacky dream John told me about, a few years back.  He dreamed he was at a big LA convention -- maybe LosCon, maybe a WorldCon, he wasn't sure -- in a hotel suite that was setting up for a party, when suddenly the numbers on the door began glowing.  There came a knock on the door, John went to open it, and Superman himself walked in, looking confused.  Nonplussed, but always the gracious host, John offered him a chair and a beer.  A moment later the numbers glowed again, there came another knock on the door, and in walked a puzzled-looking Thor.  Again, John offered a seat and a beer.  Another knock, and this time it was Green Lantern.  By now the first two guests had recovered enough to start questioning why they'd been yanked out of their respective lives/worlds/comic-books and brought here.  Another knock, and in came Captain America, soon followed by Batman, then Wonder Woman.  The crowd of superheroes determined that they'd been collected for some vital purpose, and were trying to figure out what it was.  John's comment was, "Well, I'd best go to the con-suite and get some more beer."

And at that point he woke up.

At the time he told me the story, I thought that yes, that sounded very much like fandom in action.  Now, I'm wondering if it wasn't prophetic.  We -- fandom in general and filk-fandom in particular -- are the bewildered "superheroes", however scattered into our separate worlds, who were gathered together by some unknown power (karma?) into John's hotel-room, for some mysterious purpose which it's left to us to figure out.  And John has gone out for the beer.

Damn, but we'll all miss him.

--Leslie <;)))>< 


Monday, January 15, 2018

The Racism Industry

This happened many years ago, when I was in college and living in a student rooming-house.  There were a few other tenants who weren't students, and one of them was a handsome young Black woman named Lavern.  She was well-educated, and intelligent -- except for her disastrous tastes in men, but we all have failings in that direction.  I recall it was sometime in the middle of Fall semester, and for some reason the company she'd worked for went belly-up, and she'd just lost her job.

We were sitting around the common-kitchen table bemoaning our pitiful financial states, and she complained that all the good clerical jobs in "college town" were taken, and she'd have a hard time getting work outside of it -- "because of the prejudice, you know."

"Why?" I puzzled.  "Because you're a woman?"

She gave me a shocked look and said, "No, it's because I'm Black!"

"Oh, right," said I, smacking my forehead.  "Sorry, I forgot."

Then she gave me a stunned look and asked, "How could you forget?  I'm sitting right in front of you."

"Sure," I answered, "I can see that you've got dark skin, but I forgot that it meant anything."

She gave me an odd, unreadable look, got up and wandered out, muttering: "...forgot it meant anything..."

That left me wondering, isn't that the point?  Isn't the point of the whole civil rights movement to make everybody forget that skin color, nose-shape, hair-color, etc. means anything?  If equality means equality, then why should such trivialities mean anything?  Does anybody remember, without stopping to think, whether Seabiscuit was a bay horse or chestnut?

For a few years it looked as if such forgetfulness was possible.  Up until a little over 12 years ago, I didn't run into any White people who cared at all about other people's skin-color;  race was "old-fashioned crap", and what people said and did was what mattered.  Colin Powell was the country's most popular general, Oprah was the most famous TV personality, and Bill Cosby was everybody's favorite comedian.  Sure, there were some White-racist groups -- like the LA police department -- still holding out and causing trouble, but for the most part White racism was galloping steadily toward extinction.

So who was it that kept fanning the flames, whipping up constant awareness of race and racism, not letting anybody forget for a moment that anybody's skin-color means something -- or should?

Well, I can readily point to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and a helluva lotta Black celebrities -- all of them successful and economically well-off -- who have, to be blunt, made their careers by hollering racism and stumping for funds thereby.  If White racism disappeared -- completely -- tomorrow, just who would be out of a job?

When Obama was duking it out in the primaries with Hillary Clinton, there were plenty of people saying -- like my old Chicago buddy, Cathy Taylor -- "Yes, I think America is ready for a Black president, or a woman president, but not that Black man, and not that woman."  There were a lot of planks in the Democrat platform that were worth complaining about, which have become a lot more visible since -- but Democrats, far more than Republicans, made the election all about Rejecting Racism.  Never mind Obama's spotty and questionable political background, and backers;  no, anybody opposed to him simply had to be "racist!"  The success of this tactic has led to its use under amazing circumstances, whereby anybody with a skin-tone lighter than yours can be attacked as a "racist", regardless of what that person is really saying or doing.  It's become practically an industry by itself.

Which brings us around to the media -- and a lot of political opportunists -- going ape over Trump's (unofficial, but overheard) comment about "sh!thole countries", like Haiti, and Nigeria, and some other unnamed African countries (and a few South American ones too, but nobody wants to steal the limelight from the Black "activists").  Never mind that Obama named one such country a "sh!t-show", and escapees from those countries call them "hellholes", or that a lot of inhabitants of those countries are saying in public that they agree with him -- oh no, Trump called those countries "sh!tholes",  and wanted more immigrants from places like Norway (which has an interesting history of contributions to American industry, but who's bothering to look?), so he's got to be thinking of nothing but the skin-color of the inhabitants.  He doesn't mean their cruel, corrupt and incompetent governments, or their disastrous economies, or their vicious and backward cultures, no: nothing but race, race, race!  Uhuh.

Who are the real racists here?

Now this whole flap started during a White House discussion about what to do with the immigration problem, and let's face it, having the 3rd biggest population in the world, the US does not need any more immigration.  If anything, we need to cut our population down.  The obvious solution is to pass a 10-year moratorium on all immigration, build The Wall (concrete and electronic), and seriously hunt down and deport the millions of illegal immigrants here already.  As for the DACA "dreamers", any of them who have at least begun the process of becoming citizens, and/or have joined the US military, can stay.  Just to be fair, let's make it permanent and retroactive law that anyone who serves in our military, finishes at least the minimum term of enlistment, and gains an honorable discharge, automatically gains citizenship on discharge if s/he didn't have it already.  That would be both effective and fair.

Why hasn't Trump done it already, or suggested it to Congress?  Maybe because he has to run a few more troglodyte-reactionary Republicans through his hire-and-fire mill.  Or maybe because he has to distract the attention of the Democrats, who seem bound and determined to run America's population up to 400 million -- so long as they all vote Democrat.

Now, what could more quickly absorb the attention of Democrats, their politicians, and their media-flaks?  Well, what's better than a juicy scandal?  Since Trump is a wee bit old, and well-married, for a sex scandal, what's the next best thing?  Why, ray-ray-racism, of course!  There's a whole political industry built around it, ready to mobilize armies of what Stalin called "useful idiots" to keep the topic hot and howling.  Hmmmm...

I'd keep an eye on what else Trump is quietly doing while the news channels yatter 24 hours per day about his "racism".       

--Leslie <;)))><


Friday, January 5, 2018

On Voter Fraud

I rarely re-print articles by other writers, but this one I think is worth repeating, even if it comes from a pro-GOP blog.  First off, let me say that I have no objection to requiring that everyone who wants to vote in an American election must show proof that:

1) S/he is an American citizen,
2) S/he really is who s/he says s/he is,
3) S/he really lives where s/he says s/he lives, and--
4) S/he is at least 18 years old.

Does anybody have a problem with that? 

As to whether there is persistent and widespread voter fraud in the USA, well, I was born and raised next door to Newark, New Jersey, and I lived and worked in grassroots politics for 12 years in Chicago.  'Nuff said?

With no more ado:

Dems Successfully Hide Voter Fraud

This week, President Donald Trump ended his Commission on Voter Fraud and the way the mainstream media are reporting it, makes it sound like there wasn’t any significant voter fraud uncovered, but that’s far from the truth. All it really means is that Democrats in a number of states refused to turn over any information that would prove Trump’s allegation of widespread voter fraud.

Not all of the states that refused to cooperate were Democratic led, as some states led by Republicans also refused to cooperate, but those states were largely angry that a non-politician who refuses to play their political swamp games won.
Trump tweeted about his decision to disband the commission, writing:

“Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D..”
“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do…..except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”   
At this point, everyone needs to ask why Democrats have fought so hard against voter identification?
When a number of states passed voter identification laws, Obama’s crooked Justice Department took the states to court where liberal judges appointed by Obama ruled the voter ID laws to be unconstitutional.
I’ve had opportunity to discuss this with some Democrats and easily destroyed all of their arguments against voter fraud.
Most of them used the excuse used by Obama’s Justice Department, claiming that requiring voter ID is discriminatory against minorities and poor people. To this, I ask why it’s discriminatory and they say that many minorities and poor people are unable to obtain a valid voter ID. To which, I ask if most of these people receive any form of government assistance and they admit that most do. To which, I ask if they need some form of identification in order receive that assistance and they admit they do. That’s when I ask why it’s okay to require an ID for assistance but not to vote, especially when voting is a constitutional right and obligation and receiving assistance is not?
Then I take them to the part of minorities. Former Attorney General Eric Holder claimed that voter identification discriminated against minorities, especially black Americans. To this I ask why aren’t black Americans capable of obtaining a voter ID I’m told them aren’t able to travel to the locations where the IDs are handed out. To this, I ask if they are capable of traveling to a welfare office, traveling to a store, to a doctor and other places, so why aren’t they able to travel to the location necessary to obtain a voter ID, especially when voting is so important.
What difference does a voter ID make?
In the 2012 and 2014 elections, there were numerous incidents of voter fraud. There were numerous incidents where Democrats were instructing people how to vote more than once or in more than one state.
Between the 2014 and 2016 elections, several states, including California, passed laws that automatically registered illegal aliens and other non-citizens to vote, even though they cannot legally vote. More than one outfit claimed that over 3 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, most of which were Democrats.
Even the Washington Post, known for not being supportive of President Donald Trump or the Republican Party, claimed that there was evidence of voter fraud.
If, in fact those claims are true, then Donald Trump also would have won the popular vote as well as the Electoral College vote, which is why so many states, especially Democratic controlled states like California refused to cooperate with Trump’s commission on voter fraud. They obviously had something to hide and with the disbanding of the commission, it appears they succeeded.

D Jolly