Modern Day Icarus

But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possess that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?” 

― Amie Kaufman

The fortunes of men do not move in a straight line. There are dips of fortune and misfortune that follow like a timeline graph of the S&P market performance. What and who goes up, inevitably fall, at least temporarily. For public figures, in particular, falls and misfortunes are amplified as they are publicized, criticized and posterized.

Failures and misfortunes proceeded by hype, hubris and arrogance are replete from the past. Politics is a veritable quicksand of past victims of questionable judgement and behavior including Richard Nixon, John Edwards, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer,  and Oliver North. Sports and media icons of fallen fortunes include Pete Rose, O.J. Simpson, Tiger Woods, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby and Lori Laughlin.

Comeuppance often is self inflicted. Poor judgment by words or actions or can often alter the flight of one’s career or legacy.  The sun melted the wings of Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. Legacies and reputations crash when their victims flew too far from truth, probity, decency and humility.

Five current examples of contemporary Icarus like behavior:

Jacob Peter Gowy‘s The Flight of Icarus
  1. Donald Trump: His pride was so damaged that he decided to lie and obfuscate about the results of his re-election defeat. Worse, Trump was able to dupe sycophants and crazed zealots to an attempted overthrow of the government, rejection of election results and the assassinations of Congressional political leaders.
  2. Lou Dobbs: Never met a crazy conspiracy theory or theorist he did not like or have on his show. More intimate with Trump than Melania. Confirmation of H.L. Mencken adage: “The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.” 
  3. Lindsay Graham: More flip-flops than a boardwalk in the summer. Once respected for his bipartisanship, he once rose on the wings of a John McCain friendship and principles; today, Graham’s descent coincides with his support of those elements, policies and people that McCain despised.
  4. Curt Schilling: What you say has consequences. A Hall of Famer based on his Major League Baseball performance. Off the field, his comments on same sex marriage and Muslims project him as a minor leaguer bust in the fields of politics and culture.
  5. Carson Wentz: Once the Franchise, now soon to be one of the great disappointments in Philadelphia sports history like Markelle Fultz, Shawn Bradley, Mike Mamula and Kevin Allen.

Sage 3

Seeking the wisdom of the past to explain the present…

News HeadlineWisdom (from the Ages)
Fox News cancels Lou Dobbs’ show; pro-Trump host not expected to be back on air. (LA Times)The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.
— JK Galbraith
Trump’s attempts to overturn the election have cost taxpayers more than $519 million so far, Washington Post finds. (Business Insider)“He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.” 
Groucho Marx
(Rep. Marjorie Taylor) Greene apologizes to GOP colleagues — and gets standing ovation. (The Hill)“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” 
― Albert Einstein
‘No regrets’: Evangelicals and other faith leaders still support Trump after deadly US Capitol attack. (USA Today)“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.” 
― Christopher Hitchens
Poll: 64 percent of GOP voters say they would join a Trump-led new party (The Hill)“The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”  H.L. Mencken
Supreme Court Rules Against Calif., Doubles Down On Religious Rights Amid Pandemic (NPR)Nowadays, science provides better and more consistent answers, but people will always cling to religion, because it gives comfort, and they do not trust or understand science.—-Stephen Hawking
2 more Trump supporters who took a private jet to Washington, DC, have been charged in the Capitol riot. (Business Insider)“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”
― George Carlin

Senescence: Round 2

Some additional Pensées on the art of aging and other ruminations…Earlier Pensées found here

The best thing that we can receive are not presents, but simply “presence”.

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While I sadly accept the fate of lost friendships by death, I continually mourn lost friends due to distance, dispute or their disinterest. 

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Young broken hearts quickly recover; older hearts rarely…

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Memory is a funny thing. It vividly remembers the wink of an eye from a pretty girl 50 years ago but can’t remember what it had for lunch yesterday.

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In every real man, a child is hidden who…misses the comfort of hugs and reassurances of parents, siblings, relatives and friends no longer alive.

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As a young child, I treasured a pocket watch as my timepiece, today I just treasure peaceful time.

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One may try so hard to be liked by everyone that one can forget to take the time to like themselves.

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The average older guy’s daily wardrobe often can fit into the locker he had in high school.

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30 minutes of personal or phone conversation > dozens of text and Facebook messages

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On long solo walks, I find myself rarely traveling alone…

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40+years of marriage: Life accomplishment = .400 batting average: baseball. Both achievements deserve recognition in their respective Hall of Fames.

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Linus has his security blanket; older Americans, nostalgia.

Photo by Daniel Frese from Pixels

Waxing Nostalgic

At 68 years of age, while I appreciate all the technological and other wonders that I have and am experiencing, I do wax nostalgic at times of things that I miss like those listed below:

Major league pitchers who throw complete games

Basketball players who don’t take games off

Two way football players who play offense and defense

News that only comes on between 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. No breaking news every commercial break

Civil political discussion shows like Firing Line with William F. Buckley

Women without tattoos or nose rings

Swanson TV dinners

Quality local newspapers and local community reporting

Competitive heavyweight boxing

Cuff links

Pocket watches

The convenience of transistor radios

Gino Giants

Bosco

Wall St Week with Louis Rukeyser

Phillies Hot Pants Patrol

GE College Bowl

Comic books

Vaughn Meader

Big 5 Basketball doubleheaders at The Palestra

Doctors who made house calls

Calls to businesses answered by a person

People shaking hands

Muses on a Cold Winter Morning

My writing efforts resemble my pickleball game performances. Brief flashes of brilliance mixed with plenty of unforced errors and faults.

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The experience of watching televised college and pro sports during Covid is like viewing a sitcom without a laugh track.

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Parler: politics = Pornhub: love

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So who stands “in the dock” for the various atrocities and abuses to our democracy and laws committed in the past four years? A number of Trump sycophants, enablers and officials, in a bid to salvage their reputations and careers, finally bailed out from the “Herrenvolk.” Nikki Haley, Bill O’Reilly, Betty DeVos, Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnell, John Kelly, John Bolton, Mike Pence and many other Trump supporters are fleeing from Trump like Melania avoids child refugee camps.

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Rush Limbaugh’s receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom is as appropriate as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences awarding Bonzo its Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Professional sports championships are generally decided off-season and by General Managers and less by players. College championships are generally decided in recruiting, less on the field or court. 

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How Trumpism mimics the coronavirus: (1) Can damage or kill the host (U.S.)  if untreated or unopposed. (2) Moves quickly through the populace through spreader (campaign) events. (3) Spurs denials by naysayers as to its existence and dangers. (4) Adverse after effects continue for many months (years) after initial contagion. (4) Mutates frequently posing additional dangers.  (5) Remedied by inoculation (election results).

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The biggest editors when many write are psychological, concerns for acceptance and approval plus the fear of speaking one’s mind and upsetting a career and reputation. How freeing to be retired and of advanced age when those editors are not as binding! While I still value the opinions of others, it’s more important that I move ideas and thoughts from my brain to screen, while I can.

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Tell me how many books and what you you read on a topic  and I can tell you how seriously I value your opinions on that topic.

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As I get older what has tragically declined faster than my physical and mental capabilities has been my decline in trust for most people to simply do the right things, especially when it comes to acting in the best interests of the nation, community or fellow man. 

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Donald Trump’s Putsch

Putsch- a violent attempt to otherthrow a government

Six Short Observations about the Trump Family Putsch:

  1. What struck me was that during maybe the most critical hours in our democracy, the Dow went up over 437 points and the S&P rose over 21 points. I guess insurrection and treason are now factored in by the markets. QVC and HSN were selling their wares on TV. People were still talking sports and all this happened with our nation’s Capitol, election system and legislators under siege by thugs.
  2. How could the District of Columbia, Congress, Secret Service, FBI and National intelligence agencies not anticipate that there could be a major terrorist attack in Washington this afternoon? Especially given that Trump and his family were speaking at a rally of his fanatic supporters who pledged to disrupt the Electoral College certification?
  3. What desks and offices were Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell and the other Republicans hiding from Trump’s base?
  4. Joe Biden this afternoon said “America’s about honor, decency, respect, tolerance. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been.” Certainly that was not exemplified this afternoon nor has it been the practice and behavior of the Trump administration for the past four years.
  5. First order of business for the congress men and women huddled together currently is to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President. Second order of business immediately after certification is to impeach and convict Donald Trump and remove him from office as soon as possible. I don’t care if they have to work through this all night.
  6. Waving a Trump 2020 flag after this afternoon’s terroristic attack is like waving a swastika to many Americans. Replacing the American flag with a Trump banner in the Capitol epitomizes the treachery of the terrorists and their disdain for our country’s democracy and history.

My Predictions for 2021 (12% Chance of Being 100% Right)

Everyone makes predictions though most people don’t document or publish them. People make predictions as to if and when it will rain, when the mail will arrive, whether the driver with the right turn signal on will actually make a right turn etc. One bases their lifestyle on spending based on their prediction of how the economy will do and the security of their job.

Many of my predictions are contingent on our progress or lack of regarding the Covid pandemic. Most “experts” are predicting that things will normalize by late Spring or early Summer. They are counting on most people getting the vaccine and a herd immunity taking place. I am not that confident given how so called experts whether they are doctors, scientists, Fox News hosts, U.S. Presidents and epidemiologists have not been very accurate in their projections and timetables so far.

I’ve polished my crystal ball and here are my 2021 predictions: 

photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas
  1. The vaccination rollout will be slower than projected and many (maybe most) adults will not get the vaccination. In addition, I think we are in for more unpleasant surprises and strains with the virus. I think that the rate of infections and deaths will drastically decrease by the beginning of summer 2021 but that another 600,000-700,000 American lives will be lost by the end of 2021 bringing the Covid death total in the United States to over 1 million.
  2. Next huge medical challenge is addressing patients experiencing long term effects from Covid infection affecting their quality of life. 
  3. People will still be reluctant to travel. Cruise line industries will resume voyages in fits and starts beginning mid summer 2021. Hotels and tourist destinations may regain 50-60% of anticipated traffic in summer 2021.
  4. Republicans will win Senate seats in Georgia even if they have to contest it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Another two years of legislative gridlock guaranteed!
  5. The stock market has factored in a full or almost full recovery from Covid. Expect some bumps along the way! What if the vaccine does not deliver the expected immunity or the number of adults getting the vaccination falls below 50%? Will people who got the vaccine go into stores, restaurants or other public places with those who refuse to get vaccinated? Hoping for a 5-7% increase in the S&P by year’s end but will not be surprised if it dives by those percentages.
  6. Expect some unusual drama or disturbances around January 20, Joe Biden’s inauguration.
  7. Contingent if Joe Biden is sworn in, expect that his three main priorities are organizing the fight against Covid relying heavily on Dr. Fauci and scientists; rebuilding alliances with our friends in Canada, France, Mexico and Germany; and providing additional aid and stimulus to small businesses and individuals suffering from the pandemic.
  8. No tax increases for anyone this year.
  9. A plethora of books, documentaries, articles and speeches will begin about the Trump presidency. Many Trump appointees, spokespeople and supporters will try to distance themselves from Trump to save their own reputations, careers and credibility. Their efforts at redemption will largely fail.
  10. Kansas City Chiefs will win Super Bowl again.
  11. Gonzaga is the best NCAA Men’s basketball team as I write. However they won’t win the NCAA title. Expect an “underdog” with 7-8 losses to come in and surprise.
  12. Expect limited seatings (30-50% capacity) for sporting and other entertainment events starting in Spring 2021.
  13. Eagles won’t trade Carson Wentz. Wentz will start for the Eagles in the 2021-22 season.
  14. Expect a fourth or fifth place seed for the 76ers in the NBA Eastern Division playoffs. If Kevin Durant stays healthy, it will be the Nets vs. The Lakers in the Finals.
  15. Crystal ball looks to a good playoff run by the Flyers; a dismal season for the Phillies.
  16. There will be more credible sightings and documentation of UFOs.
  17. Pickleball will continue to rise in popularity as more 30-40 year olds play. The drop serve rule will be permanent as it creates more drama (and aces) around the serve and return. 
  18. Pickleball singles will increase in popularity and singles matches will be showcased on telecasts and streaming services. Tyson McGuffin vs. Ben Johns is to pickleball singles what Borg-McEnroe was to tennis. South Jersey player Frank Anthony Davis is very competitive.
  19. The effects of quarantining schools and students due to Covid will be felt for decades. How many careers for scientists, entrepreneurs and researchers were lost due to the interruptions in education?

Last Thoughts for 2020

2020 has been extended for another six month at least! More Covid deaths, more lost jobs, more families unable to pay their rent, more people hungry etc. If only life could be handled by TV remote, we would be pushing fast forward to arrive at better and safer times.

Sending $600 to Americans for covid relief has about the same benefits as throwing under inflated life preservers to drowning people thrown overboard in raging seas.

If we distributed needed supplies, weapons and armaments to our military in World War II as expeditiously as we currently are distributing the Covid 19 vaccines to our citizens, we all would be speaking German and purchasing groceries in yen.

What if Joe Biden expressed “buyer’s remorse” about entering the White House? He could complain that he was unable to do the proper due diligence and inspection as Trump officials refused to provide him necessary information and background.

Everyone should have a dream of making someone else’s dreams come true.

Masks have become fashion, medical, cultural and political statements. While they hide the nose and mouth of those who wear them they also expose the character and judgement of those who refuse to wear them. 

Definition of Misnomer- a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. e.g. United States of America????

Why is it that content (podcasts, movies, music, websites, news shows, social media) is sandwiched between and among so much marketing and advertising?