Sunday, August 25, 2019

Just Desserts


Just Desserts
by Alfred Lehmberg

The sad old man lay supine on a moldy cot in the allotted cold-water walk-up to which he'd been summarily, even rudely, assigned. He was lucky to get even that, he realized. Still, he was harboring an aggrieved misery not understood in an age where the majority can still pay its bills. 

The reader discovers that the old man's possessions had been recently confiscated and his property seized. His savings were liquidated to cover inflated, largely felonious, medical costs. He thought he had provided for all this.  "All this" was... just to start.

He was the last one left.  His family and friends were all dead in the dread triad's trifecta of disease, euthanasia, and homicide. Human Existence had gone, and decidedly, south. 

His children were murdered noncombatants in the "Rain Forest Wars" of 2028. ...A brother, tragically, by his own hand in a final resignation of all futility when his family passed in a similar contention. Friends and acquaintances... some in ways defying description. Real blaze of "glory" acts of pathetic desperation and angry despair... patheticism on parade. 

His own wholly unheralded and totally unmourned death loomed as a preferable event to that which he'd witnessed with his own eyes, remembering the terrible loss of his own children... he was glad, now, they were gone... 

His "last grand act" would have saddled any survivors anywayincreasing their burden and eroding their own futures... as he had been burdened and eroded... Social Security and Medicare are well missed where employers were loathe to pay living wages in the first place... but that was for persons with futures... if they'd had any futures. ...No one did. No one had. No one would.  

The care of his own parents had taken a sizable chunk of a dire discretionary income, and they had been "prepared," too. His wife was recently fallen, expensively, to the latest airborne Ebola variant released from a violated Amazon, or she'd likely be with him now sharing the mandated and official Retirement Experience. She'd still had a year to go at 70, but the old man bet she would have elected to go out with him. He would if she'd been the first...

The Retirement Experience was a Government program of forced termination. Sugarcoating is always disingenuous.

It was rumored to be something similar to what Edward G. Robinson experienced in Soylent Green... A drugged reverie regarding a glorious remembrance of what colorfully "was"... flowers, VR mountainous blue skies, blue seas filled with fish and splashing dolphins... the forgotten odors of lilac and sandalwood... only, Robinson's was voluntary

...If you turned yourself in they were more gentle. If they had to come for you it would go hard...  

In a few days, to be clear, he was slated for termination in that mandated program of "Geriatric Renewal." That was the program's "people-friendly" think-tank designation. At 71 He would dutifully surrender himselfwould then be summarily plowed back into the expiring soil... after being squeezed of every asset. The now significantly well-dwindled 1% could still pay to be kept alive in whatever comfort there was remaining... Life was still precious for the few behind the gates... 

...There was talk of lowering the "Geriatric Renewal" age to 65...
           
It was late in a soiled and sordid year of 2042, and the weight of those years bore down with a crushing inevitability on the lonely old man.  The weight of that burden (which may be a future) is unendurable, insidious, and tragic in its avoidability.  ...And it was, he thought to himself, so avoidable.  "Stupid" usually is.

The life that afflicted him now was a condition that he, and others like him, had thoughtlessly created themselves, he'd slowly come to realize. He'd helped, astonishingly, to engineer a crisis of biblical proportion in his last quarter-century... was his dawning new thought. 

Subsequently? His "activity" or lack of same would help to inaudibly pop the hubristic bubble that was an arrogant humankind like it was an oily sandwich bag crushed heavily under-wheel at the ever-growing toxic land-fill. Humankind would be equally inaudible.

Overpopulation and its hard-case relatives Economic Collapse and Environmental Catastrophe... ...these would deliver a knockout blow to the weak chin of a consummately disappointing, underperforming, and slack-jawed humankind.  Finally, life had become too much to bear because the old man, he realized in the cruel winter of his winter, had helped make it too much to be borne. There's one for the stomach's pit! 

Early in the twentieth-century humankind began to profligate itself into all corners of the available existential planetary environment like hordes of clever, if self-loathing, locusts. It couldn't be told from space by your conjectured garden-variety ET as anything apart from a fungal infection or crass viral infestation. Such was humanity.

Heedless and insentient expansion. Mindlessness. Glutonies and overindulgences.  No thought about the consequences. Zero. Zip. Nada. Bupkis. One would think self-aware sentience would know better. We didn't.

The old man was reminded of dated television documentaries featuring breeding pairs of mice allowed to reproduce without limit into a large cage... food, water, and sewage not an issue.   The mice reacted to its overcrowdedness in what was ultimately a disturbing and unnatural manic indifference to their squalidly packed existences. Inexplicable and horrific physical outbreaks of violence were perpetrated on one another. Rat psychotics and rat psychopaths abounded doing rat psychopathic and rat psychotic things... Unconscionable acts upon one another, then readily expressed without explanation or logic, so unreservedly! That's overpopulation.  

So went humankind. Respect for privacy and public safety was an early casualty.  Vicious strangers dragged he and his wife from their home, on a couple of occasions. They were beaten savagely and made then to watch as their possessions were passed around to grasping dirty hands or destroyed out of cussedness. One almost got used to this.

Calling "police" was an exercise in futility. Their hands were full guarding the gates at the gated communities. The Gangs controlled huge sections of major cities, now, splattering the countryside with blood and neon ultra-violence, countries unto themselves.  Food was rationed in lines seemingly unending. At least the rats had food and water...

Rolling electrical brownout was a twenty-four-hour occurrence, but the straight-up outage of grid-death was more likely.  Speaking of the dead, they would lay stacked in forlorn piles covered with a few inches of septic earth until "processing." Maybe Soylent Green was real...

There was more than a dalliance into cannibalism by people he knew (the details are difficult to dwell on); more than once he had been tempted to try it himself...  He'd been able to refrain...

Too, insult on top of injury, the old man reflected that his horror was shockingly unnecessary.  The smallest amount of educational effort could have reversed this trend to insentient overpopulation, and he might more likely be living in a comparative Eden he mused forlornly. All was lost when Ronald Reagan made it possible to knowingly lie on public airwaves without consequence. 

Fascist Authoritarianism had certainly had its run and here he was!  There could have been at least an attempt to do the sensical. What was bad about "Democratic Socialism," again? Sanity, always within reach, somehow evaded grasp. 

Overpopulation hastened an economic collapse that would have occurred anyway.  The later part of the twentieth century was witness to seeing successive generations of undereducated people who redefined slothful detachment to a less than constructive art form.  The old man lived to see fidelity, service, and commitment to excellence as outdated virtues outliving usefulness. That's never been a good scene. 

At the last, he cursed bitterly the short-sighted and suicidal situation he selfishly made for himself and his doomed heirs. The fruits of it were, oh, so apparent.  Society devolved to a new predatory business ethic of ethicless corpocracy selling dangerous types of equipment blowing up on the road or bathing consumers with lethal radiations in the home.  

Rat tails and fingernails were tolerated in what "passed" for hamburger. Bank frauds and contractual abuses of all kinds wasted the innocence and increased the criminal guile of a humankind ready to ride a devil's shirttail into and reawoken racism and sexual bigotry

Attractive rumor was preferred outright to the more productive if less attractive but cited factual reality. Truth was no longer said to have beauty.   

He and the rest of his slothful generation betrayed the efficacy of "doing your own thing," as members of the self-involved "me generation," in mendacious "laid back" decades seeing neither point nor requitement in "unrewarded" exercise. Steadily, instead, it squandered the fiscal and emotional savings of the aggrieved aggregate planet to satisfy what would prove to be only mendacious "me" moments on the subject of personal futility and social meaninglessness. Prufrock in regretful expiration.

...Our spaceship Earth was disintegrating to a dying slum-ship officiated by psychopathic swine. ...And then climate science was proved spot on.

The procrastinating spend-borrow-spend mentality, borrowing against an unknown future, was facilitated by psychopathic profiteers running the world debt up to a point where it just-could-not be paid. One is reminded why there were prohibitions on all loansharking et al, anyway! The collapse created a smoking landscape of psychotics and suicides leaving the more sane and courageous persons only holding the indebted bags of their fellows' rotten and inconsequent bones.  

Overnight, the United States had become a third rate pseudo-power, a laughing stock, and a liability to be cashiered before all value was lost. Banks were overrun and trampled. Remains, this fiscal hell could have been avoided for pennies a day if humans had started soon enoughas late as 2020. Only, they'd let that be their last failure.

Overpopulation hastened the final ecological crisis to an inevitable conclusion. Environmental abuse turned major slashes of the fragile planet into steaming, virulent, and open cisterns of disease-releasing ice melts and tundra thaws. Toxic waste and micro-plastic eventually killed the oceans outright, so it was only a matter of time until the rest of the planet began to falter in a faster and more agonizing fashion.  

Babies of all kinds (human and animal) were born misshapen and grotesque, or dead where they were born at all.  Barely potable water was more precious than an equal volume of substandard foodstuffs, it would come to pass. He was always thirsty. Urine drinking was common.  

The myriad colors green disappeared with other examples of natural color; all that remained were washed out browns and diseased dirty grays.  

Humankind had been injecting agro-poisons deeply into the ecosystems of the planet for decades, rendering them now sterile and uninhabitable.  There would be no breath of life on the planet going forward. There would only be a pervading odor of the last forced breath of a long-dead corpse.  

There was no question about it.  Proud humankind spent its last decades defecating in bed and pushing it down with its feet.  It was almost laughable that the world had had obvious proof of the avoidable consequences of environmental inaction, early on, for a century even, but that complacent humanity could not make the smallest sacrifice to a future in the correction of these current existential horrors... for themselves or their children.    

The old man lay on a dirty cot, waited to go die, and wished fervently for a chance to live his broken life over.  Though, the solutions that he knew might have precluded this disaster were lost to an uncaring past. Ifs were like spilled milk... 

Spilling the inevitable "Ifs"... 

If he had at least voted with a sane if complacent majority to elect men and women to Government more worried about doing the job than getting elected to do it, the misery could have been avoided.  If he had voted to tax more of wages of the moderately affluent (and up) for Social Security, or if he had campaigned against the concept of prevaricating "right to work" laws, then perhaps there would have been some money to pay off the huge debts that he had helped to incur.  If he had supported measures to reform the Health Care System or encouraged Corporate America to end fascistic and predatory discrimination practices, the situation would be more bearable. If we had held that bastard tool of psychotic corpocracy, TЯUMP (that beginning of the end), to his empty promises as the Education President et al (Chosen of God and loved by Israel!), or supported other measures to enliven the educational infrastructure (much less the physical National one!), we might not be in this sorriest of sorry, sorry states.  If we had taken better care of ourselves physically, or exercised, or eaten more intelligently, perhaps we could have evaded the liabilities of poor health or had a system addressing them... preferring disease cure to disease management... If. If. If.

If ifs and buts were cake and nuts... 

One more. If he had not been one of the self-serving, short-term-solution sycophants... a cretinous consumer-monster no better than any when it's dealt out... he could have contributed to a living World.  Instead, he was a symbol of its failure and on the blame line for its demise.  

Imagine knowing at the end, then, like the old man above, that yours was not a symbiotic relationship you had had with your Nation, or with your planet. ...Not remotely.

No... There was only one word that would describe that brand of contribution.  That word was... parasite, and their desserts are just.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Of Presidents and Popes...

How many flavors does time have...
What provokes them?



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I've been looking through the Hubble; 
so, I'll make this terse account. 
I've wandered distant galaxies
traveled time ... I've been about. 
I've been going where we all can go; 
the kingdom's here at hand
too, it just may be we breath upon concrescence!  
Understand?

It's larger than we could have thought 
—expanding as we speak— 
its edge beyond the limits 
of the places we can seek. 
It just goes on and on 
in this ...glorious... expanse... 
swirling frozen fire 
kissing prepossessing chance.

It doesn't stop with rainbows, friend 
but descends to infra-red; 
its paint then ultra-violet
on to x-rays (yes!), instead! 
Its pressures are incredible
and then pressure's less than mist!  
You'd be shredded to your neutrons
yes, or say you'd just been kissed...

In that space and time and distance? 
There are persons being born. 
Why, with just one race per galaxy, 
there are thousands, billions—more! 
See? Thus contrives the multi-verse
...We're what it, then, makes up: 
To provide for insight on itself!  
...Drink deeply from that cup!

It is good... and passing bad
or indifferent, then, as hell! 
It wallows in the foulest slimes; 
or, it's ringing sterile bells. 
Sometimes it is a blessing
Sometimes it is a curse... 
it could be said it's much like us. 
That's for better. 
That's for worse.

We have a million neighbors, then; 
we've never been alone. 
Some wait outside the *front doors
of our squalid little homes. 
Some wait with plates of *brownies*, 
and some others wait, *without*. 
Some wonder when we'll open doors... 
and bravely walk on out!

They wonder why we linger 
when the truth ... it must be plain
We must come out! Like whitewash runs 
from fences in the rain.

...And we'll all feel so damned foolish, 
and we'll hang our heads in sorrow... 
that we wasted all this precious time 
denying our tomorrows.

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I've been looking through the Hubble...
 and it's hard to get excited 
by the struggle and travail of human beings. 
I've just come back from timelessness... 
all spaciousness...
—vast distances—
no "common sense" conceives it in its dreams.

I've wandered where the black holes 
and the hypernovas are, 
so I can't "arouse" for ignorant delay. 
That comes across so petty 
so unworthy of reflection, 
we're a race bereft of what would save our day.

...And remember fellow humans, 
when the *others* do appear, 
how we spent our time and effort, here on Earth. 
Did we short-sheet trusting brothers; 
did we denigrate our sisters, 
just to keep a spot we covet near some "hearth."

We thought we had our "reasons": 
they weren't the proper faith ... 
their color was... objectionable 
( we have this thing with "race"). 
...The other side lacks "proper towns... 
they didn't speak "our" language... 
the "sex" is too disturbing ... 
they were on a different bandwidth? 
They "didn't have no schoolin' "... 
they "weren't as blessed as me" 
...they were from another country, 
and, "by rights," were "bad"... you see?

Well—all that's pretty laughable 
when you're woke to extant truth... 
All those "pretty" little bigotries 
just dissolve 
and fall from view. 
See, at last, ...reality... 
that we never were alone
Embarrassment shades cheeks bright red, 
but shame will touch the bone.


"Wherever you go; well, there you are."
  • Meanwhile... Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Dr. Laura... et egregious al...or...what can happen to you when too many people hear you on the radio or TV... 

  • Power corrupts, absolute power... absolutely!  How does one keep their head?  To start: you don't believe the good reports about you, only be thankful for them.  If you're sincere you have to pay some attention to the negative criticism...
  •  
  • Oh... add those deplorable if "well-meaning" tea-baggers, freedom bangers, and "Never Trumpie" psycho-Saviors? ...These seemingly contrive for a complete discredit of Christianity's institution, a trifecta for a religion's invalidation. Burn their life boats!

  • Christianity... it's an institution forever "advantaged" by busy sociopaths and misogynists, anyway... ...but the aforementioned "trumpled" (sic) tea-baggers... ...make the discredit complete and worse, actually... ...Worse than your garden variety fundamentalist suicide-bombing Islam! That's true!
  •  
  • See, government-controlled by religion—Theocracy—is what you court with these Trumpian tea-baggers, their legislated morality: an authoritarian theocracy of the most turgid and smothering dogma-worship imaginable.  Real ...bug-in-the-ass up-tightsmanship... of that heavy, come-right-in-your-bedroom, caliber.  How's all that working out for the Arabs, anyway... ...proof of the cognitive infidelity of a "tea-bagged Pal-beckian" initiative because we all have a clear audit trail of the consequences of that wing-nut initiative, overseas!
  •  
  • Yes, then Christianity would be worse, you see, because their boosters have a ready example of a theocracy to appreciate in the news—such as it is—every day. Islam remains the child of Christianity, and the child the father to the man...
  •  
  • Consider the potentials of Presidents and Popes. The former is a spiritless-sock-puppet for inhuman and corrosively applied corporate interests unethically imposed as "fair and square, conservative, and of God." ...But no, his interests unabashedly and disingenuously use religion, shamelessly, on a wide, diligently uninformed, and trusting base... ...Use religion as a manipulative and unethical control mechanism, reader, so as to relieve that "base" of, not just their cash, but their birthrights, their civil rights and their rights to satisfaction and self-respect!  ...But. ...I. ...Sugarcoat.
  • I'll know a tree by the fruit it produces, Sir and Madam.
  •  
  • The latter? He is much of the preceding. Plus... traditionally? Why, He protects the interests of pederasts and pedophiles in an unnaturally if allegedly celibate priesthood...reader... ...from that "trusting" base.
  •  
  • Outrage?
  •  
  • Yea and verily, and I say unto ye, my ufological brethren! [g]. Hey, keep one hand on your wallet and the other over your posterior pore! Be sensitive to unwarranted activity in either of those two locales...
  •  

  • Restore John Ford.