— From the Fool —

It’s getting harder these days to be a professional Fool. Like my sister the hooker says, the business is being ruined by amateurs. Even people running for President are getting into the act. It’s a fine line: saying crazy stuff to make people laugh or saying crazy stuff to make them hide under the rug.

So I thought, well, maybe I need to do something else for a while and get rich and then come back to picking up the Fool business. I’ve been getting ideas. They say it’s the Information Age, so there must be a need for something to have information about. Some of the ideas I got this week:

* I could start a steel mill way out in the country where the rent is cheap and there’s less competition.

* I could invent a skateboard for animals, like for cats or chickens, or turkeys would be funny on a skateboard, and people would buy them for their pets to get on Facebook.

* I could figure out a way to fry watermelon.

* I could print fake money but then I’d have to think what to do with it that wouldn’t get me in trouble.

* I’ve got a box full of old socks with big holes in the heels and toes, but the rest of the sock is fine. And a closet that’s pretty empty once I get rid of the box of socks.

* I thought about bags for people to put over their heads for various reasons. Or something to dry off a cow that’s out in the rain.

* If you had furniture that was made out of tofu, in a pinch you could eat a chair and still lose weight. You’d need a very dense tofu.

* I could charge my cat rent, but I’d have to get a cat. And teach him to do something useful.

The only other idea I had was to run for President. Problem there is, the way it looks now, I might get elected. They give you free room and board then, I think, but as Leader of the Free World you pretty much have to drop bombs. I don’t think I’d be good at that.

— From CB —

The bad guys. When I was a kid in Council Bluffs, you could tell them by their hats. The good guys in the Saturday-morning double feature had white cowboy hats, the bad guys black, and the head of the gang was usually in mustache and business suit. The hero had the nicest horse. There was always a shoot-out at the end, and that was the end of it. Nobody ever had to re-load, and you always knew that one good shoot-out would end it.

In those days, of course, we feared the Commies. We knew they hated our Way of Life and would do anything to screw us. They might be high in the Administration, they might even be living next door, but I don’t recall that we ever called them the bad guys; yet now, when the old cowboy movies are part of the fabled past, we’ve brought that term into our daily discourse.

The Bad Guys can be street thugs or the international Islamic conspiracy. If we take guns away from the Good Guys, we’re told, only the Bad Guys will have guns. We have to adopt the tactics of the Bad Guys or else they’ll walk all over us. They have hats that change color from black to white, so we can’t depend on appearances. The Bad Guys’ only motive is being bad. They’re just that way. Or else they have the same materialistic desires as us: they want to kill our children in their beds in order to get their promised forty-nine virgins. That, at least, we can understand: it’s an investment plan.

The confusing part is this: when does the Bad Guy become the Bad Guy? When he’s born? When he finds Allah or Jesus or the lunatic-of-the-week and becomes a true believer with a purpose in life? When, after being a conscientious husband, father, worker, taxpayer, he picks up the handgun meant to protect his family and shoots them as they sleep? Was he a Good Guy before 3 a.m. and a Bad Guy thereafter?

At least we have one range of terminology pretty well established. If the shooter is white and at least nominally Christian, he’s mentally unstable; if he’s Muslim, he’s a fanatic; if he’s black, whether he’s got a gun or not, coming at you or running away, he’s a death threat.

This isn’t about gun control. It’s simply a plea that we require some precision in our vocabulary. Otherwise it gets us in trouble. How do you call a cop who shoots an unarmed kid a Bad Guy? His hat is the same color as everyone else’s. The best you can do is Bad Apple. But that recalls the old proverb about the bad apple rotting the whole shebang, and we really resist checking out the rest of the barrel.

“Bad guy” gains its popularity from a sort of mental slumming by the pundit classes: See, we use a vocabulary you can understand. It’s cute & juvenile, but that gives it an extra zing, it’s tough-guy, in-the-trenches screenwriter talk. But I’m just wondering: when do we start talking like adults?

— From EF —

War and Peace, the Cliff notes: are we falling off the cliff? I have seen polls saying that, given an option, folks prefer peace to war, but it doesn’t appear that anybody in charge takes that seriously. The US has been devoting the bulk of its money to war for a very long time, and the current agenda even has us upgrading our nuclear arsenal, not to mention plans for new military bases in Africa and the Middle East.

I live in Sebastopol, CA, and I’m not yet seeing Predator drones overhead or MRAPs jamming up traffic on Highway 12. But warfare isn’t limited to far-off places. There is a tsunami of violence and destruction on a daily basis in the US, and maybe Sebastopol is only a “high ground” of sorts.

People say “not in my name,” but what about extending that to the war at home? Sales of semiautomatic weapons are skyrocketing. An asphalt tanker train just exploded today outside Portland, on a track where nuclear waste is scheduled to travel in 2016. Today’s video shows LA-area deputies firing repeatedly into the writhing body of a non-white man in front of a gas station. Even here in beautiful Sonoma County, it can be very risky to ask the police for help in dealing with a mentally-disturbed family member — the outcome is too often bloody and sudden.

Where are the grown-ups? Why are the pleas for peace and community inaudible to the ears of the Very Serious People? How come nobody gets called on the carpet for spewing hateful lies?

Ranting helps a little. Better yet was gathering in an evergreen-scented living room last night with about thirty people who had come with poetry in their heads and hearts, speaking from memory, sharing the pain and joy and comfort that had been distilled into those words. Then today, sitting by the ocean and watching the fashion show as bright green gleaming water and dark grey rain-clouds strutted down the runway, changing from one form of beauty to another.

Tomorrow is another day.


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© Bishop & Fuller 2015

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