Sunday, August 1, 2021

#RandomThoughts As August Dawns....



A new month is at hand.  I achieved a major personal milestone--although I still have about a month or so of administrative backends to address--and this major achievement won't hit me until I get the actual degree within the next number of weeks:


It was also a week that saw mask mandates return as the Delta Variant began to wreck havoc yet again due to the pandemic of the unvaccinated--one of the key must reads is this by Marc Cooper which I have the pleasure to support:


By Marc Cooper

July 30, 2021

Our two pandemics – COVID 19 and the massive Trumplican  mis/disinformation campaign-- have now merged into one deadly plague that is ripping through the land.

Some 90 million eligible Americans are still avoiding vaccination a full six months after the jabs have become available, leading to a quintupling of infections over the last three weeks, a resurgent death toll and new rounds of mask impositions, partial shutdowns and a clamor for mandates to be instituted.

Look at one of the myriad infection cluster maps now and find that ALL of the concentrated outbreaks, some of horrific proportions (see Missouri), track absolutely perfectly with areas that voted in 2020 for Donald Trump.

More than 80% of Democratic adults are vaccinated. Only about 50% of Republicans. And that’s an average.

In some southern states, the epicenter of Trump Country, vaccination rates run as low as 30% or less and that’s where the hospitals are once again overflowing with those being mowed down by Delta.  Joe Biden has called this mounting fourth wave “the pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

More precisely, this is a wholly man-made, wholly manufactured, wholly preventable deadly wave that owes directly to the  refusal to vaccinate, aided and abetted by nearly 18 months of propaganda downplaying the virus,  undermining the vaccine, mocking public health measures, equating masks with Nazi yellow stars, calling for the jailing of Dr. Fauci, pushing hare-brained theories that the vax carries microchips or magnets  and that this whole pandemic was somehow staged or capitalized upon so that a hidden elite can better control the masses.

In other words, this is The MAGA Pandemic.  This is where the Big Lie folds neatly into Deadly Anti-Vax Conspiracy Theories and the result are projections that we will soon be up again to a 1000 deaths per day, that national steps backward could go on into the winter, and that in the most backward parts of America, and I use that word deliberately, defined as centers of rural, conservative and evangelical concentration, the pandemic could linger for several more years.

No sane  politician – except maybe the Governor of Alabama whose mental state I cannot attest to-- would ever publicly blame the voters for anything.  That is prima facia politically suicidal.

Well, I am not a politician.

Still, I am not going to trash the voters or, more specifically, that portion of the voters who refuse to vaccinate.

But if I did speak up and if I did say what I really think, this is more or less what bubbles up:

Hey! No more Mister Nice Guy.  No more pandering or “listening” to your ignorance, fear, and superstition.  I am sick and tired of your Massive Stupid.  Your selfishness is stunning.  Your disregard for others is deplorable, your unwillingness to face reality produces anger, disbelief, and even a certain level of embarrassment of having to live in the same country as you.

America First! Yes. Thanks to you and your imbecile friends we are, indeed, Number One in the world.  Number one in deaths with 612,000 and rising. And also, Number One percentagewise of countries with the greatest number of hesitant nimrods and refuseniks like yourself.

In your fantasy life, you think you are some type of courageous and heroic freedom fighter when, in fact, you are a repugnant ignoramus, now threatening the health and security of 330 million other Americans, you are endangering your own family and neighbors, you are threatening the well-being of your own children at a time when the Delta variant targets the young, you are threatening the economic revival, and you are threatening the very stability of the United States. YOU, my friend are the problem. Nobody else.

I understand that about 5 million of you are innocent, indeed, you are potential victims. I refer to those who are immuno-compromised and cannot be vaccinated. You more than anybody needs to be protected from these idiots.  I also understand that there are some poor and marginal folks who, it is said, have not been sufficiently included and to that I will say: ok, then fucking include them already. I will also note, that some Black and Brown people are as much in outer space as some Whites are. Skin color is not a vaccination against reason.

As to the other 80 million of you others, I see two broad categories: the “hesitant” and the “dead enders” (pun intended). 

To the hesitant: Oh, poor babies.  You are “concerned” about what exactly?  The long-term effects of the vax? The side effects of the vax? Just what exactly?  As of July 30, some 165 million Americans have been fully vaccinated.  Globally 3.5 billion vaccinations have been performed.  Hey, snowflake, in your ongoing search for answers have you noticed the results after 6 months? 

We have spent the last 18 months locked down in a pandemic during which did you take any time to do any serious reading about it? You know, from like a newspaper?  I mean, did you not bother to do any real research other than talk to your manicurist or bowling teammate?  Were you too busy watching American Voices or your favorite prime time line up to actually properly inform yourself?

Apparently so.  I will now do you the favor of completing your research in the off chance that you might actually go get vaccinated some time before the sun burns out.  The verdict is in: the vaccine allows you to live.  Without it, and with Delta hunting you down, you have good odds of croaking ( Though I will reassure you that the one silver lining of death by COVID or any other source is that it has zero side effects).

For those of you holding out for more “incentives,” as if this were an auction for airline vouchers rather than a life and death imperative, you absolutely nauseate me, almost as much as the offer itself. Millions, nay, billions of people around the world are praying every day for access to the vaccine and you want to be paid for it?  This sort of totally egomaniacal position is really hard to grasp in the midst of a national emergency.  Next time you have a heart attack, do you want the paramedic to offer you a gift before you accept some treatment?

To the Dead-Enders:  I really have no words for you even in private, let alone in public.  I suppose if pressed, I would say, you are disgusting.  There are no arguments left to serve up.  You have decided to join what is now a blatant death cult. It’s unfortunate that your reprehensible behavior affects so many others because when it comes down to the final battle between you and Mr. Delta, I am afraid not too many will be betting on you.  The virus doesn’t give one fuck about how many Gadsden flags you’ve adorned your F-150 with, nor does it care how much of tough guy you think you are, nor how many rounds of .223 you have to fight it off… Delta’s gonna clean your clock, podna. And if it does not, you have earned the permanent scorn of millions of us for the rest of your squalid life.

I want to see a nationwide mandate for vaccination…now. We’ve done it many times before and have eradicated many communicable diseases.  And I want to see a frggin’ iron clad vaccination passport.

I want these intransigent diseased motherfuckers barred from any indoor public space unless they have proof of vaccination thru a national digital data base.

No vaccination? No proof of immuno-suppression? No passport. No passport? Great. No entry in bars, restaurants, cinemas, sporting events, concerts, retail shops, or even markets. You need food? No problem, patriot! Pick up your phone and have Safeway deliver it to you as you sit calmly and safely (for the rest of us) on your couch and watch more of those who David Plouffe calls The Merchants of Death on Fox prime time.  Or… better yet…. try to sneak into the market without a passport, get caught, get busted and get thrown in a special jail for the unvaccinated,

Ok. Remember, this is what I would say only if asked what I really think.

Emotion, even informed emotion, is not a good basis for public policy.  I am sure that a whole lot of people in government have the same view I outlined above, but politically, I’m not sure it is...um...a viable option.

That said, while I think Biden’s speech pleading with people on Thursday morn was a good one he is still being too deferential to these imbeciles.  I understand his panic and his desperation. But asking states to reward these scoffs with $100 per shot is the wrong route. And the wrong moral message.

Positive reinforcement has not worked and will not work going forward.  The $100 will make no difference, especially among the MAGATS.  Even the sudden turn of Republicans like McConnell, Scalise and Sean Hannity now encouraging the vax will fall on deaf ears.  The MAGATS have shown tremendous discipline in breaking with, shouting down and shunning any Republican who departs from the official line of sedition and denialism and the calls to vaccinate will be met with the same defiance – no matter their source.

Biden needs to move more forcefully toward negative incentives.  Hey, Macron did it with one stroke of the pen.  There were protests afterward, but so what?

The MAGATS have been protesting against anti-COVID measures since the initial lockdown. Who gives a damn if they protest any action Biden might now take?  But the president himself, true to character, seems somewhat limited by fear of becoming too ham-handed.

Why such a slow process to get to where we know this is going with the US military?  Just order the mandate today.

The same with final approval of the vaccines by the FDA.  Yeah, yeah, Biden has vowed to not interfere with independent agencies.  Biden, please interfere with the FDA so we can remove from the tab;e the bogus MAGA claim of the vaccines being “experimental.”

Biden must also urge if not mandate that school districts “require” not only masks, but vaccines for those over 12. And a twin mandate for those under 12 when their vaccine will be approved, probably in September or October.

I am rather conflicted as to what sort of mandate, or “vaccine requirement” Biden might be able to impose nationwide.  He’s probably right to leave it to the private sector who is looking to be quite aggressive in imposing vax mandates on both employees and customers. The administration, however, should be readily prepared to act with decrees if the private sector push stalls or fails.

No question the MAGAT refuseniks have triggered quite a negative response in public opinion as the Fourth Wave continues to mount.  You can bet that the reluctant turnaround among elected Republicans now supporting vaccination owes more to alarming private polling than it does to any attack of conscience.  It’s hardly just me that’s sick of this crap. So are a great majority of Americans.

Note to readers:

 I want to once again stress that the big issue here is not the person of Donald Trump.. Trump is as much a construction of his followers as he is their oracle.  Same with the Republican Party. It is following the MAGATS, not leading them. Trump was merely clever enough to take stock of the regrets, complaints, suspicions, superstitions, disorientation and despair that had been building among millions of Americans for decades and spin it to his benefit. If not him, it would have eventually been someone else, as it still might be the case in the near future.

The political ground for Trump was well-tilled and wonderfully prepared long before him by Reagan and Bush who popularized greed and arrogance and was further assisted by a line of Democratic presidents who studiously avoided serving the true the interest of their most fervent voters in order to curry favor with a new powerful technological and global financial network.

What we face today is the culmination of that 50-year process that has produced a massive anti-democratic, non-rational, semi-insurgent movement on our doorstep. Trumpism was a startingly effective accelerant for this movement and if we do not take it seriously, if we let complacency reign, if we do not oppose it with effective counter-politics (which we have not to date), we run the risk of being consumed by it. 

I leave you with these strikingly prescient words from the late Carl Sagan who penned this almost 30 years ago as a reminder of just how endemic this Know-nothing force has become:

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness... The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.”― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

If Sagan only knew how prophetic his words would become. ++


Beyond the safe confines of America, my mind drifted away to Iran as Iranians rose up to say enough is enough.  They have no water, no food and no hope.   As I saw this note (when Iran Air launched its' non stop service), I nearly cried as I also flew on this plane and we remained hopeful that the service would continue to Los Angeles:


I finished off as I caught another "blast from the Past" about Scouting In Iran that underscores the continued social transformation which was derailed during the revolution:




As I finished off my "Virtual Walkabout" and supported work for the Daily Outsider, I ran across this courtesy the great Hadi Heidari that fully captures the legacy of the Islamic Republic --I nominated him for the courage award for Cartoonists:


I remain hopeful as the new month dawns in spite of the profound challenges.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Out & About With Some M-End #RandomThoughts


It has been a very challenging few weeks.  I decided to take comfort in this thought from the great and eloquent Vala Afshar to remind myself of all that I am blessed.   I pulled some #RandomThoughts on Iran along with other thoughts as I look forward to the ongoing engagement at hand: 



You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough. -Mae West


When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho





 


It’s interesting how infrequently money comes up in Meditations. Here was a guy who had incredible wealth, whose predecessors obsessed over it and found it to be a source of both pleasure and conflict, and yet in his private meditations, it hardly comes up at all.

In his actions, we see Marcus was conscious of money, but primarily as a means to an end not as an end to itself. He was more interested in what it could do for other people. He declined gifts and inheritances. He gave liberally to the poor. He sold off palace furnishings at Rome’s lowest point.

But perhaps these attitudes are related. Because Marcus did not think particularly highly of money, he was comfortable in his ability to be generous. At one point, he told the Senate that he did not regard himself in possession of any of his wealth. It belongs to the people, he said, even the house I live in is not mine.

There can be virtue in frugality. Cleanthes seemed to be an incredibly hard worker—a manual laborer, no less—who spent little of what he earned. But frugality and diligence with money can also be a vice. It makes finances loom large in our lives, makes us throw good time after bad (after all, it’s not enough just to earn money, then we have to manage it and make it grow). We can come to identify with the fruits of our labor and our success, which makes it hard to spend (even on necessary things), hard to be generous, hard to share.

Money isn’t rare. There is nothing precious about precious stones. It is all incredibly common. Most of the people who have it are not impressive, most of the great fortunes are, in fact, the opposite of great. The way to think about money is as a tool, and what did the Stoics use their tools for? To do good. To get better. To make the world better.

We can do the same


Sunday, July 4, 2021

Out & About With Some Brief #RandomThoughts On this #4thofJuly



It is Independence Day here in the United States.    I was working away gearing up for the new week of commitments, finalize planning in support of the Daily Outsider along with other projects as my mind yet again drifted away towards Iran as I saw the overnight developments.    The two images I note above captures how a Grand Canyon continues to persist as a new "clique" takes power in Iran in a few weeks.

I have been looking and finally found two very simple yet profound tweets that explain the true realities in Iran right now--it is sad and tragic how a country that was bound to be in the First Tier of Countries has sunk so low that its' passport is now 189 in the World, 50 million (according to the regime's own officials) are expected to be Environmental Refugees, how over 150,000 of the best and brightest have left as regime officials peddle self-sufficiency in Vaccines (even though less than 10% of the population has been vaccinated) and  as this persists: 

 

 


Translated from Persian by
Go to Armenia for a vaccine, to Abu Dhabi for a visa, to a TOEFL test in Georgia, to a concert in Antalya, to have a drink in Istanbul, to experience the sea in Dubai, to experience freedom, to live a normal life. He moved away from the shadow of the Islamic Republic.

6:57 AM · Jul 4, 2021Twitter for iPhone 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Out & About with #RandomThoughts

 



It has been quite a week.  I decided to headline my brief thoughts with this I own in my Personal Artifacts Collection: An original Signature of His Majesty the late Shah of Iran and his Second Wife, Queen Soraya--it was her birthday this week




While out & about on Social Media, I paid homage to the two young reporters who died.  I could not believe my eyes at the arrogance of Iran's Environment Organization head.    I also was horrified when I saw reporting about five soldiers losing their lives.     As I write this, Iranian Laborers have begun a nationwide strike with the simple slogan of 20-10 (20 days on-10 days off).   People are leaving Iran in droves (some 150,000 left last year).   I am listening to a program about the true realities in Iran --I broke down when one of the analysts talked about how, in the UAE, there is a ministry called the Ministry of Success & Happiness--and how the unemployment stipend Kuwaitis received is higher that Surgeons in Iran.     It was also just sickening when the Deputy Health Minister called those who criticized the untested Vaccine, Morons.      The last comment was even more sickening:  how 5 million kids have mental issues: 









I remain hopeful that light will shine again on Iran in spite of all the horrors the people have to deal with as I hope that the unity as a result of the boycott of the Elections will be sustained.    

Sunday, June 20, 2021

On this #FathersDay2021: Rememebering an Iran Legend/In Memoriam | PARVIZ KARDAN | 1937 - 2021

Today is Fathers' Day in the United States.   I extend Fathers' Day wishes to all my brother Fathers' who do all that they can to make a difference.   As I was reflecting on this day and the continued calamity that has befallen Iran today--especially in the aftermath of the election, I decided to release this tribute courtesy the great folks at Farhang Foundation as they paid tribute to a great Iranian, Parviz Kardan who passed away recently.   May his soul rest in peace and grant solace to his wife and daughter--as he will live on in the immense body of work he produced and the almost 60 years he was with Iranians:

 



 
Mr. Kardan was born in Shiraz on October 20, 1937, and started his artistic career in 1959 by acting on stage and on television. He studied at the Tehran School of Dramatic Arts and later continued his studies in Directing in London, where he developed the idea of Iranian television sitcoms through what he had witnessed on popular British television. 

He was one of the leading trailblazers of Iranian television and he starred in and directed several shows including "Jabeye Ashrafi” (director), “Amir Arsalan” (director), “Sarkar Ostovar” (co-directed by Mansour Pourmand and Parviz Sayyad), "Octopus" (co-directed with Parviz Sayyad), “Khaneh Bedoosh” (director and star), “Adam Kaghazi” (director and star), “Marde Aval” (director) and “Tabestan, Tabestan” (director).
 
Mr. Kardan started his career in Cinema in 1971 by directing and starring in "Amoo Yadegar." A year later, he starred in "Shir-Too-Shir." His last film was "Morad Barghi Va Haft Dokhtaroon" in 1974.

After the 1979 Iranian revolution, Mr. Kardan was forced to emigrate to London and later to Los Angeles where he continued his theatrical and television work on such productions as “Mohakemeye Iraj Mirza,” "Tehran Oh Tehran," “Haft Rang,” “Salam Va Khodahafez Shazdeh Khanoom,” and in several plays including "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett. In addition to the stage, he hosted his own television shows on Farda T.V., VOA Persian, and many other networks.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Out & About with Some #RandomThoughts on Iran (Updated)

 


For this special edition of Notations, I decided to focus on Iran as tomorrow is the so-called "Election" In Iran.

I decided to begin by remembering how Iran was as I captured this image of my own School in Iran on how things were.

As I write this, every credible poll in Iran reflects a very low turnout--may be up to 20 percent of the estimated 65 Million People.   I am seeing reports about how the Sunni Minority is courted as well based on reporting by the Kalameh Network.  The reality is different, though, based on the simple depiction of what the true fact is: 





As I was surveying the scene, I caught this from Iran's Trevor Noah, Sina Valliollah who basically tore into the so-called "candidates"--2 of which withdrew in favor of the preferred candidate, Ebrahim Raissi: 



 What was the ultimate legacy of the Islamic Republic was noted below as the Leader spoke for the third time in a few weeks to basically beg the people to vote as everything is pretty much set:    



As I was thinking about the tragedy that is Iran, I called up a classic talk by Professor Mohsen Kadivar of Duke University.  This sermon, delivered at a remembrance for the victims of the 2009 Green Movement Protests, went through an indictment of the Islamic Republic that resonates even today: 


(Update ((6/18/2021:  Here are updated comments on the state of elections in Iran--This is from the leading opposition analyst Mojtaba Vahedi)): 



 

..and as I wrote this update, the Kalameh Network provided live coverage of how streets in Iran  were empty on this election today--it is indeed a good day as Iranians are truly boycotting the polls:




Remaining Hopeful..... 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

یغما گلرویی - شعر رهایی/ همایون شجریان و سهراب پورناظری - تصنیف While Out & About With some brief midweek #RandomThoughts :

I have been working away on commitments at the Daily Outsider This Week--and been assessing what has been the latest out of Iran. I decided to call up two classics sung by two of the great contemporaries of Iranian Music and I'll have more thoughts on it soon.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Out & About with Brief #RandomThoughts For the Week

 


It has been a working weekend of reflection, engagement, and gearing up for a new week as I continued assessing the latest out of Iran with the so-called "elections".   I reminded myself how truly "Freedom is Not Free" as I am reminded of it daily with this tribute to the 40th Infantry Division that hangs in my office.   I also worked on creating a Visual Essay for a Project for the 40th Infantry Division where I serve as an NCO for the Military Support Unit:


Onward to a new week



Monday, May 31, 2021

Out & About With Some Brief #RandomThoughts




It has been quite a month and quite a quarter in many respects.     After a stint in Community Service for Covid, I was back tending to on-going commitments at the Daily Outsider as I also worked away on working (I hope) to finish off my Doctorate in Public Administration along with commitments at CalGuard, I also worked on assessing my Personal Artifacts Collection & Personal Library.  

As I was assessing my personal artifacts, I readily admit that some of them are of profound sentimental value--for instance, a backgammon set that belonged to my Grand Father that is over 100 years old or an old Vinyl Record Collection that might have some interesting values.     There is also the National Geographic Collection of Magazines that goes back almost 50 years.    I also own a number of Iranian Artifacts along with a collection of Iranian Currency which I have illustrated above.     

I have also been continuing to assess the ongoing tragic circumstances on the ground in Iran.  I joined in extending birthday wishes to Iran's Mandela, Nasrin Soutodeh earlier today:

Iran is at a crossroads as I remembered and continued to think about pre-revolutionary Iran.  Some 64 percent of Iranian Villagers are slated to leave their homes due to a lack of water.  Almost 32 Million People are in need.     This is as almost 70% of the people have no right to even run for Office as the Presidential Elections Loom in a few weeks.    I note this to underscore why an important artifact I own is critical:  an original signature of His Late Majesty the Shah of Iran and his second wife, Queen Soraya I am in the process of being framed for preservation.    The work with the Military Museum Command has underscored how it is critical to work on managing artifacts in a responsible way for the future.  It is all about leaving a legacy of purpose because this from the Daily Stoic underscored how one has to realize how we must savor every moment:

At the height of his powers, King Pyrrhus was killed by a roof tile, thrown by an old woman, as he conquered another city. In 1967, Harold Holt, the prime minister of Australia, went out for a swim in the ocean and simply never came back.

We like to think that power, that fame, that greatness, that money can protect us from the whims of fate, but of course it can’t. We lost Kobe Bryant to a helicopter crash. Stevie Ray Vaughn too. John Lennon was killed by a deranged twerp. John F. Kennedy by one too.

All the accomplishments, all the wonderful contributions to humanity, all the years they had left to live and gifts left to give—suddenly gone, cut off before their time. All the ambition, all the mountains they had their sights on climbing? Gone.

It was Juvenal who said that the whole world had not seemed big enough to contain Alexander the Great. Then suddenly, in an instant, a coffin was sufficient. No matter how big we are, we can get cut down to size. We will get cut down to size. It’s not a matter of if, only when.

That’s why we say to ourselves, several times a day, memento mori. That’s why we study history. That’s why we read these texts. To remind ourselves of that inescapable fact that our ego wants to constantly ignore—that we are fragile humans. Whether we are an emperor like Marcus Aurelius or a slave like Epictetus, we are at the mercy of forces we cannot predict, let alone control.

We are mortal. We don’t have forever. We are not invincible.

 

It is also Memorial Day weekend here in the United States.    I close out this with a tribute:



Onward to June & Beyond.....