Macho News

Well, here we are — still locked in a struggle with … Okay, let’s not bore each other with the details.  None of us can escape Doom Scrolling these days.   Personally, I find the numbers have gotten so big I quit trying to comprehend them — back in September.  However, I’m still planning the party for when we finally strangle the life out of this wicked little virus.  And the first toast is going to go to anyone in the medical profession.

But, despite our current global predicament, apparently no invisible bug can put a stop to macho, that strange phenom that turns normally reasonable people into WWE wrestlers.  But in the real world, they’re half as comical and twice as crazy.  Here are a couple of examples from the current news feed.

1 – For some unknown reason, they’re shooting at each other in some place I can’t pronounce in Central Asia.  Call me a cynic, but when Google’s Auto-correct can’t even find the place, there can’t be that much there to fight over.  Folks, look around you!  The world has problems, and who owns which bit of real estate 100 kilometres south of Tbilisi isn’t one of them.  Mother Nature is killing enough people on her own these days.  You don’t need to add to the carnage!

2 — There are a couple of games of “You-did-not/I-did-so” going on.
The American media reported somebody (read “the Israelis”) killed Al-Qaeda’s #2 man in Tehran.  The Iranians are saying, “No, they didn’t.” But, strangely enough, Abu – uh – (I don’t actually care what his name is) hasn’t showed up for his Suicide Bomber classes since August.  (You decide!)
Meanwhile, allegedly, the Chinese military used microwaves to literally cook the Indian army out of a disputed border area in the Himalayas.  The Indian government says, “No, they didn’t.”  But, given what we’ve recently discovered about Chinese culinary traditions, I wouldn’t be too quick to poo-poo the idea.

3 — In America, they’ve whipped out the lawyers to keep fighting the presidential election that was over several Tuesdays ago.  I’m not surprised: litigation is as American as baseball.  But given the various and sundry lawsuits circling the White House, this is rapidly turning into a 21st century rendition of Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?”

And finally:

4 — The folks at Big Pharma are acting like a bunch of schoolboys.  First of all, last week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their Covid-19 vaccine was 90% effective.  Right after that, Moderna said “Oh, yeah?  Well, our vaccine is 95% effective!”  Then, right after that, Pfizer and BioNTech told everybody their vaccine was 95% effective, too, with no measurable side effects.  Not to be outdone, this week, the researchers at Oxford jumped into the fray and said their vaccine was almost 100% effective for old people.

Hey!  Just stop it!  Instead of dickin’ around, playing my-vaccine-can-beat-up-your-vaccine, how about getting it on the market?   There are 7.8 billion people on this planet who’ve been holding their breath since March, waiting on you.  I mean, thanks and all that, but really!

The Week That Was – 2020

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There are some weeks when nothing happens – zip, nada, bupkis!  And then there are other weeks that just boil over with stuff going on.  Last week was the boiling kind, and here are a few events of note.

After three and a half years of dickin’ around, the UK finally left the EU.  And — no big surprise — the sun didn’t fall out of the sky, the Chunnel didn’t implode and Big Ben didn’t chime 13!  In fact, if you were asleep at midnight GMT, too bad — ya missed it.  Still, the Irish are offended, the Welsh are dismayed and the Scots are downright pissed off.  But let’s face it, if the English were offering free tea and crumpets, somebody on that island would bitch about it.  However, one part of Brexit does unite the various peoples of the United Kingdom: they all — boys, girls and baby squirrels – hate London.

Ground Hog Day was completely overshadowed (heh-heh-heh) by the Super Bowl.  Apparently, the game had over a billion viewers worldwide.  I don’t believe it.  Outside the good old U.S. of A, there are only about 12 people who actually understand American football, and they’re all Packers fans.  No, most folks watch the Super Bowl for the ads and the halftime show – and, this year, the halftime show didn’t disappoint.  What’s not to like?  A full 15 minutes of synchronized semi-naked women, bumping and grinding as if there were a 2 for 1 sale on orgasms; men dressed up as sperm; a pole dancer and a choir of children to prove it was all about feminism.  I don’t know about you, but after the final ass shakes, I was satisfied.  Anyway, the little rodent in Pennsylvania got second billing, and nobody cared if he saw his shadow or not.  However, according to folklore, since Kansas City beat San Francisco, we’re going to have six more weeks of dull, flat and boring.

Sunday was also 02-02-2020, International-Give-A-Nerd-An-Eyeroll-Day.  Despite all the Internet yipping about it, these “palindromic anomalies” are actually quite frequent.  The next one is – uh – next year on the 12th of February (12-02-2021.)  However, Americans are going to have to wait until December 2nd (12-02-2021) because, for some weird reason, they put the month first.  I guess these number games are kinda cool, but they do beg the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, does anybody count the leaves?”

And finally:

Faced with the uncontrollable spread of an incurable virus – again — the Chinese built a couple of hospitals in less than two weeks!  (You can see them do it on YouTube.)  Wow!  Meanwhile, in Europe the people of Barcelona have been working on Sagrada Familia since 1882, and they still haven’t finished it.  Lazy is such a hard word. . . .

Two Tales Of Tyranny

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Thirty years is a long time.  It’s more than a generation.  It’s on the very edge of living memory.  So it’s no surprise that not many people know that today marks the 30th anniversary of two very important events in the history of tyranny.  One — under the diligent efforts of an oppressive government — fading from view; the other, largely forgotten for very different reasons.

In the spring of 1989, protests across China were gathering momentum.  They called for the total reform of the Communist government, and their epicentre was Tiananmen Square.  The Square had been occupied by thousands of students from Beijing’s universities since the middle of April.  On May 20th, the Chinese government declared martial law and ordered the students to leave.  In an unheard of act of disobedience, the students refused.  Two weeks later, on a warm evening in June, Deng Xiaoping called in the military, and the protesters in Tiananmen Square began hearing reports that the People’s Liberation Army was on the march.  What they didn’t know was the unarmed citizens of Beijing were fighting a desperate battle to stop the tanks.  All over Beijing, ordinary people had crowded into the streets to defy the People’s army – human barriers facing totalitarian steel.  The army didn’t care.  They had their orders.  They opened fire.  Stunned and enraged, the people fought back.  They threw up makeshift barricades and pelted the trucks with bottles, stones and Molotov cocktails.  But there was never any doubt: shopkeepers and office workers are no match for professional soldiers with automatic weapons.  Hundreds were killed that night, thousands injured and the trucks rolled on; their objective, the students in Tiananmen Square.  By midnight, the Square was surrounded and the young people were given an ultimatum: leave Tiananmen, or face the consequences.

There is no definitive account of what happened next.  Some say hundreds more were killed, but the Chinese government insists that there were no further casualties.  What we do know is most of the students did not leave voluntarily.  (There are videos of them, amid sporadic gunfire, shaking their fists at the soldiers and singing The Internationale.)  But we also know that, by mid-morning, the students were gone, and later, when a crowd of people (mostly parents looking for their children) approached the Square, the soldiers once again opened fire and then called in more tanks.  (We have a famous photograph of one man’s brave attempt to stop them.)  Whatever happened in the dark, early hours of June 4th, by the end of the day, the Chinese Spring was essentially over; ironically, crushed by the People’s Liberation Army.

Halfway around the world, June 4th, 1989 was Election Day in Poland.  But this was no ordinary election because, for the first time in 50 years, there was more than one name on the ballot.  For the first time since Hitler and Stalin had carved up the country in 1939, Poles had an opportunity to choose who would rule them, and millions were determined to make that choice.  In the big cities, the turnout was cautious; still, thousands waited patiently for their turn at democracy.  In other parts of the country, small towns were virtually shut down as everyone who could, went to the polling stations.  By the end of the day, it was clear that Lech Walesa’s Solidarity Party had broken the power of the Communists.  They’d won every seat they were allowed to contest in the Sejm (parliament) and 99 out of 100 seats in the Senate.  Their victory was so overwhelming many thought Moscow would annul the vote and send in the Red Army. (It had been done before.)  But Mikhail Gorbachev was not Leonid Brezhnev, and in 1989, the Soviet Union had its own problems.  The results were allowed to stand.  It was the first tear in the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe and dominated world politics for 45 years.  Here was proof that the Communist State was not invincible.  Within four months, the people of Berlin had pulled down the Berlin Wall.  Less than a year later, most of the other Warsaw Pact nations had held their own free elections, and Germany was reunified.  Within two years, the Soviet Union itself collapsed: the Cold War was over.

Today, no one much remembers Lech Walesa, the Soviet Union or the Cold War, and China’s economic power has made it expedient to shut up about Tiananmen Square.  Besides, our world is much more concerned about who’s wearing what on the Red Carpet and which celebrity wrote something unfortunate on Facebook five years ago.  But we need to remember these tales of tyranny because — even though eventually the pen is always mightier that the sword — there are also hard occasions when the sword wins.