Amoeba’s Lorica: Long Sunset

Sunset, 30K feet west of San Francisco

The scientist – for so he persisted in calling himself, out of long habit – plonked himself down in a first-row seat on the airliner that would take him back to his home on Hawaii’s Big Island. It had already been a long day, flying into California from the US Gulf Coast after a long and intense conference, and dammit, he was going to give himself some legroom on the last leg of his trip home. His armpits were getting sore from having his knees wedged into them for hours on end.

Plonked himself down and waited … and waited … and waited. It was the day’s last chance to paradise, and some of the connecting flights were late arriving to the airport of the City By The Bay. By the time the last stragglers dispelled their anxiety on the jetway, the afternoon was descending into evening, the last daylight was merging into twilight. No matter, the pilot said, we’ll make up the difference in the air and arrive on time.

At last, the 737 with the globe skeleton painted on the tail got dragged out of the gate, rumbled and bounced to the runway, and then roared into the air.

And as it did, the sun rose in the west. Rose above the coast-range hills separating San Francisco Bay from the ocean. Rose above the low clouds and fog that stretched far out to sea, clouds and fog that spilled over the hills; a marine layer screaming Semper Fi! as it came, intent on smothering the bay with its misty murk as it had smothered the cold, upwelled Pacific Ocean that spawned it. Rose as if, for one brief moment, the sun had heard and heeded the cries of Joshua, the cries of Maui; as if, for one brief moment, the sun, and the earth that revolved around it, intended to defy the physics of the universe and make the earthly day longer.

Rose – and then began to set again, repenting of its momentary rashness and retreating into the western horizon, intent on resuming its wonted course.

With the jetliner in hot pursuit.

For two hours, the sun sat perched on the western horizon, while the 737 attempted to catch it and make it honor its promises.

Alas, the maximum speed of the Boeing is half that of Terra’s surface as the planet rotates about its axis. Finally, the race was lost, and night enveloped the frustrated airplane.

The scientist watched through his window as the last hints of twilight disappeared over the western horizon, and then turned to his fellow passengers, who had replaced the light from the sun with lights from their electronics, or from the reading lamps above their heads.

And he sat, as he turned off the glaring electronic screen that had been displaying presidential re-election campaign ads, and he wondered whether he had interpreted what he had seen correctly.

Was the aircraft earnestly pursuing the light on the western horizon?

Or was it desperately fleeing the encroaching darkness from the United States mainland?

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, personal thoughts, travel, We the People | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Kris an’ Murphy: Fakin’ It To the Streets

Kris: “Say what you want to about the hypocrisy and self-serving vanity of the Baby Boomers …”

Murphy: “Happy to. How much time do we have? The university would like us to take a work break some time this week.”

Kris: “At least the Boomers were in the streets, Murphy! Making it perfectly clear that the unacceptable is unacceptable, and that they were going to break things until the unacceptable was taken away!

Murphy: “I see. So might is right?”

Kris: “When all else fails, what else is there?”

Murphy: “Right. You do know, don’t you, that the Hanoi Hilton is now a museum and tourist attraction, visited by those very same Baby Boomers who burned, baby, so they didn’t have to go see the original?”

Kris: “Where they might have been treated, as prisoners of war, better than they were treated as soldiers of the army that sent them?”

Murphy: “Yeah. Just like the Jews were treated in the model cities that Nazi Germany built for their protection.”

Kris: “Dammit, Murphy, whose propaganda do you believe?”

Murphy:Nobody’s. Which is precisely my point. You look at the corruption and dysfunction of the Democratic party, here in these Untied States of America, and the jurisdictions over which it holds sway, and tell me – if you can, given that all you really see any more is misinformation – whether it holds any better prospects for good governance than the incumbent gang of idiots. Whom We the People elected into office. You know my line by now: the only people for whom I will vote are those who will tell Us what We authentically need to know – most of which will be, at best, unpleasant news – not the glorious self-serving fantasies that the various electorally-significant mobs of Us wish to hear. And the chances of people telling us what We need to know coming to Our collective attention – or, still more to the point, wanting to come to Our attention – are basically zero.

“You think young folk should hold sit-ins like their grandfathers did? I don’t think our current crops of so-called students could find the office of our university’s President, much less organize a sit-in in it. Not that security would let them get anywhere near the office if they managed to find it, and kept themselves together long enough to reach it. You remember those Marches for Science, and Women’s Marches, a year or so ago?”

Kris: “Kinda sorta.”

Murphy: “Yep. Haven’t heard much about them lately, have you? They dissolved into petty factional squabbles even while they were being planned. You’d think that women would have shut down the country by now over the Kavanaugh mess. Didn’t happen, won’t. The women are too busy screaming at each other. All hail Facebook. Best instrument for controlling the proles since telescreens.

“Your 1960s street scenes are so 1960s. That was then. This is now. They’re not going to happen. Especially not while the economy’s booming and everyone’s face is full. Not too full to stop the bitching, not to mention the profiteering, on social media. But bitching is a form of entertainment, enjoyable on a full stomach. Action means mean, nasty work, and maybe going hungry, or going to jail or into exile or into a hole in the ground.”

Kris: “But …”

Murphy: “When’s the last time you flunked a student?”

Kris:Murphy! What did I do to you to get you so mad at me that you’ll get me slapped by the Administration for even thinking about flunking a student?!?”

Murphy: “Precisely. Keep those bums in those seats, hm? Especially now that the students who actually have brains enough to get any value from sitting in those seats have worked out the size and scope of the boondoggle we offer, instead of what our propaganda says we offer, and are staying away. Meaning that we have to coddle what we do get, so they’ll continue paying their fees – and our salaries – and go out begging for more.

“For at least two generations now, we have been sending students out into the work force who have no concept of consequences. Or, at least they didn’t until they tried to get into that work force. Which is when they discovered that the world’s not the cozy place they thought it was, and they blame everybody for the state of this world, and for their failures to prosper in it, except themselves. Just as we taught them to do! Which we did to serve our bums-in-seats purposes, not theirs or anyone else’s.

“You want to know but? When the consequences happen for real – global war, or global collapse of society with famine, drought, pestilence, and climate calamity, probably both at once plus some drama I haven’t thought about yet, then people will pay attention. Of course, by then it will be far too late. And the religions, all of which are utterly bogus, will prosper like never before. Because if you can blame everything on a Cosmic Godfather, who, of course, is doing it all for the sake of a Grand Plan which will benefit all his followers – after they’re all safely dead, mind you – well, how can you possibly be at fault for anything. Yes?

Kris: “God, the ultimate scapegoat.”

Murphy: “In all its flavors.”

Kris: “Each one of which is dead set against all the others.”

Murphy: “Yeah, ‘dead’ just about covers it.”

Kris: “But what do we do about it?”

Murphy: “Bugger all. Consider, for instance, what would happen if this conversation somehow got posted on the Internet. What do you think would happen?”

Kris: “TL/DR.”

Murphy: “Yep. Too long. Too many big words. Too gloomy. And that’s from the folks who dismissed it without reading it.”

Kris: “You’d think having a vocabulary was a crime.”

Murphy: “Ah, it’s as I thought. You haven’t been reading your student evaluations.”

Kris: “Same as you. I’m depressed enough without reading either them or the Commander-in-Cheezwiz’s tweets.”

Murphy: “And if you go for a clear, exciting message in the elementary-school language that the citizens demand, as the price for getting them to pay you any mind at all …”

Kris: “… how are you different from the Cheezwiz, or from any other of the demagogues who represent the sum total of our political diss-course these days? So what is there to do?”

Murphy: “What we have been doing. The bottle’s on the table, waiting for us.”

Kris: “Do I want to know what’s in that bottle?”

Murphy: “No. But I can tell you, it’s not Victory Gin. Yet.”

Posted in current events, Kris an' Murphy, politics, satire, We the People | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Amoeba’s Lorica: Meme-ories 16 (For Thee)

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s ‘death’ diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

                    – John Donne, “Meditation XVII”, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions, 1623
                        (emphasis added)

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, Dude and Dude, history, politics, We the People | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments