A Companion to the Assassin Bug: On Baseball, Jews, Baseball and Jews, Politics,Politics and Baseball, the Musical Genius of Susanna Hoffs, Books, Plutocracy, and Piano Music, scribbled by an unapologetic liberal. Lately, including posts on parenting, divorce, moving, and my bad attitude. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Which is the primary reason Twittler supporters like him:
They relish, they love, they bask in the glow of being able to say “Fuck You!” for 8 years.They hate what they’ve become and they have found their scapegoats in liberals who envision a fairer and more decent view of America. It’s not that they have any evidence to think that Der GropenFührer is anything other than the huckster he has proven himself to be. They just hate liberals. They hate they idea that a few lazy people scam the system while multitudes are helped–It’s so much easier than looking at how the plutocrats control their lives. They love the idea that any worth they have in life is only due to solely their own pure virtue, and can disallow the idea that luck might have had something to do with where they are in life. They now don’t have to admit that their own difficulties are due to inequities they are powerless to fight, but can instead blame it on the misguided good will of others. They can revel in their greed, and the uber-Gordon Gekkos of the world will tell them that that is all just and right. They can inflict their religious prejudices upon the minority by playing the victim. They can indulge their gut feelings that their genes are at least better than someone else’s. When we go to war, and other Americans pay the price, they can stand up for “G-d Bless America,” say that they support the troops, and feel absolved for making others pay the price for their jingoism. This is the triumph of the selfish minority. When the masses realize, if ever, that they’ve been cheering their own exploitation, it will be too late.
I was misled. I was taken by hand down the primrose path, and dumped at the end of it with piles of pages and boxes of books, volume upon volume and tome upon tome: so many that I can no longer carry them without causing a debilitating flare-up of my sciatica, which, alas, renders me useless for just about every activity, except reading.
Books are the buggy whips of our age. But worse. You only need one buggy whip: books act in synergy to make sequels, trilogies, collections, and ultimately libraries.
But nobody wants them anymore. The pleasures of reading are experienced ever less.
So what am I supposed to do with all of these books I’ve collected, from stories that I’ve liked to the so-called canon of “Great Books” that are supposed to be on Everyman’s shelf?
I have to fucking move. Why? Because I didn’t have it in writing. I trusted my stupid idiot landlord, which makes me the stupid idiot. She goes and gets knocked up by someone who isn’t even her boyfriend and decides that she needs her house back. I told her: I need to stay until my daughter finishes grade school. But she’s pregnant now, and it’s probably the first time anyone in MA has been pregnant for at least 10 years, so such a momentous occasion trumps everything else. What, she can afford this place now that she can shake someone down for child support? Whatever.
And I have all of these books to move. Here’s a copy of EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization &Reprocessing, purporting to be “The Breakthrough “Eye Movement” Therapy for Overcoming Anxiety , Stress, and Trauma.” (I actually tried this therapy once. Years ago. Went to a guy in Newton who got paid to move his finger back and forth like a metronome. Then I found out that he wrote “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Reincarnation.” It ranks #1,484,901 on all Amazon book sales, but it just barely makes it into the top 100 (it is #100) in New Age Books on the site. By comparison, Eric Kraft’s Inflating a Dog: The Story of Ella’s Lunch Launch, a great and inventive read, ranks #3,731,034.) So let’s see. I save the lives of dogs, and this guy writes books on reincarnation and teaches people to watch metronomes. He lives in Newton, and I can’t even afford to live in Framingham anymore. Hmmmm.
So here’s the question: why on G-d’s green earth would anyone spend his time writing? Certainly not to be read, because it ain’t going to happen. Too busy tuning into Netflix, hoping to find the one good movie that has been rotated in as enticement to keep us from canceling our worthless subscription.Ya certainly don’t write for money. The internet put even more unnecessary words out there, and the jobs that once paid $1500 per article dropped to $150. Not worth the time. Intellectual burger flipping.
Collect books to pass them on? My children, alas, show no great interest in reading. The hours I spent with my head buried in discovery don’t seem so appealing to them. Did I waste all that time reading? Does it make any difference now? Was all the money spent on books better spent on tomato seeds (heirloom, naturally), travel, and automobiles ?
Oh, I am disillusioned. But I am not bitter. Promise. I am sitting here on the piles of books, needing to say good-bye but unable to do so. They won’t even go to a good home. They will be sent to the recycling plant and turned into cereal boxes and grocery bags, and maybe even toilet paper. The words that once made the author so proud will be brought low, made to wipe someone’s ass.
I came across Yukio Mishima’s The Sea of Fertility tetraology today. He killed himself–well, not just killed himself, but committed seppuku–when it was finished. It was his final effort, his statement to the world.
For those of you interested, it starts out like this:
When conversation at school turned to the Russo-Japanese War, Kiyoaki Matsugae asked his closest friend, Shigekuni Honda, how much he could remember about it. Shigekuni’s memories were vague–he just barely recalled having been taken once to the front gate to watch a torchlight procession. The year the war ended they had both been eleven, and it seemed to Kiyoaki that they should be able to remember it a little more accurately. Their classmates who talked so knowingly about the war were for the most part merely embellishing hazy memories with tidbits they had picked up from grown-ups.
Two members of the Matsugae family, Kiyoaki’s uncles, had been killed. His grandmother still received a pension from the government, thanks to these two sons she had lost , but she never used the money; she left the envelopes unopened on the ledge of the household shrine. Perhaps that was why the photograph which impressed Kiyoaki most out of the entire collection of was photographs in the house was one entitled “Vicinity of Tokuri Temple: Memorial Services for the War Dead” and dated June 26, 1904, the thirty-seventh year of the Meiji era. This photograph, printed in sepia ink, was quite unlike the usual cluttered mementos of the war. It had been composed with an artist’s eye for structure: it really made it seem as if the thousands of soldiers who were present were arranged deliberately , like figures in a painting, to focus the entire attention of the viewer on the tall cenotaph of unpainted wood in their midst.
As soon as the weather gets nice, finally, sometime in the middle of May, I think of getting back outside. Not necessarily to do anything, but to just get outside without the burden and discomfort of cold and extra clothing and let the sun irradiate my skin. O let the sweat drip from my forehead, let my clothes stick to me, I do not care. I do not have to shovel. I do not have to clear the car off. I can open the windows and turn off the heated seats.
But then they start. The incessant whine, the buzzing around your ear like that damn mosquito that won’t go away while you try and sleep. Cursed things! Could somebody tell me why on G-d’s green earth an able-bodied person needs a riding mower for a 1/4 acre plot? Or even a motorized mower? Get some exercise! Use a reel mower! Let’s ignore the fuel that it takes to run the mowers of this country–just imagine all the fossil fuel used in creating and transporting the mowers. Is any device more suited than the mower in showing us how inconsiderate our neighbors are, out there at 7 am on weekend mornings, conveniently ignoring the fact that some of us may be sleeping (typical New Englander)? Is this a good use of technology? To be sure, there’s hardly an hour when someone isn’t mowing somewhere within earshot–can’t we have a few hours to listen to the wind and the birds and parents screaming at their children?
The pride people take in their lawns! Folks–It’s just grass. And I, for one, refuse to pour perfectly good drinking water on the ground on purpose. What’s the worst that could happen? That my lawn turns beige? and I don’t have to mow it at all. Chemicals? Why? To get rid of the dandelions, which are a) pretty, b) native, and c) edible? There are various species of things growing out there, and they are no less green that bluegrass or fescue.
The gas mowers will remain in reserve for those occasions when the grass has grown too high, or when the neighborhood is suffering from too much quiet. Actually, I may need to buy a house, so maybe I’ll let the whole thing go to hell and lower the property values until they reach an affordable level.
I wrote a comment about raw milk on one of their whack-job websites. It seems that the fanatics are determined to show us how nuts and racist they actually are. I thank them for proving my point for me.
Richard Lerner’s insinuation into this forum of the old canard about ‘Jefferson sleeping with his slaves’, is a wonderful example of a red herring … ny little half-truth will do, to denigrate the reputation of the Founding Fathers … because liberals cannot abide the fact that America was created by white Christians for their posterity. The Campaign for REAL MILK is – first and last – a movement of white Christians re-awakening to our racial heritage = the Bible = which is why it’s now targetted by the over-educated ignorami who are bent on globalism aka known as ‘a socialist world government’ “we must secure the existence of our people, and a future for white children”
Mr. Gumpert had cancer of the prostate. All things considered, I don’t rate this as tragic. Unfortunate, yes, but certainly not down in the depths as was the case with Frank Zappa, whose prostrate cancer struck at the age of 53 and was fatal.
With Zappa’s death, the world was deprived of an unusually sharp wit coupled with a virtuosic musical talent and an incredible knack for humor and originality. (I am in no way saying that Zappa’s life was worth more or less than any other human being’s. But I feel free to compare their works.) Mr. Gumpert, on the other hand, is a sort of reverse Carrie Nation, wielding his hatchet so that we can drink something instead of having it prohibited. Like Ms. Nation, Mr. Gumpert will probably not achieve any long-term success. I believe that raw milk will continue to be a highly regulated substance, consumed only by a small part of the population. Most Americans, I imagine, are to be content to drink inexpensive, safe milk.
IF YOU’RE GOING TO OBSESS ABOUT ONE THING, YOU’D BETTER PICK A GOOD ONE.
But while raw milk is a bagatelle, prostate cancer is a serious problem. It is also an extremely complicated problem. there are a lot of unanswered questions that come up after the doctor’s glove comes off:
Should all men get PSA tests?How often? Is it different for those with a family history of prostate cancer? How do we know when a biopsy is called for? What is the best way to biopsy? What are the consequences of false positive tests? How can a patient find the best surgeon? How can we be sure that the media is conveying this information accurately? How do we get the correct information to the men at risk? How do we deal with the fact that men tend to be such poor patients? Can we change the behaviors of men to make them act more in their interest as patients?
So here is a very real public health problem, suffered by someone who is actually a real journalist. He has an audience. He knows how to meet a deadline and get his material out. He has connections with trusted publications with large circulations. He is in a real position with the help a lot of men parse out the difficulties of a very difficult disease, one that even if it doesn’t kill, strikes at the very core of what it means to be a man. And yet, he chooses to be the bandleader for a small group of fanatics, many of whom have an economic interest in the outcome of this bizarre fight. The Complete Patient (which is neither complete nor about patients) doesn’t even say if Mr. Gumpert is so interested in raw milk because he believes that it cured his prostate cancer.
I don’t think most of his current readers are interested in real and pressing public health and health policy problems. If so, it seems to follow that he would’ve been writing about them more regularly. There are, however, plenty of worried people out there with plenty of questions about problems other than the single imaginary one dealt with in his blog. With all the monomaniacal energy expended on something that really isn’t a problem, one can’t help but wonder if he couldn’t use all this energy to perhaps give the next Zappa a few more years.
Historical note: August 2010 was the biggest month ever for the Assassin Bug, when for some unknown reason , searches for Brigitte Bardot (its matron saint) shot up like the price of Halliburton shares during an unnecessary war.The Assassin Bug was the unintended beneficiary.We are hoping that this August we will top last August’s number of visitors, when over 6,000 gawkers drooled over pictures of France’s most famous hate-speech criminal. Please check in daily to The Assassin Bug, or the Meta-Bug if you must, as often as possible between now and Labor Day. Every time you visit, another mosquito is squished.
August Sweeps Month is coming up for the Assassin Bug, and the foaming-at-the-mouth believers in raw milk can always be counted upon to drive up a site’s number of hits whenever their sacred cow (ha!) is looked at askance. But I won’t write about this on my public health blog, because as a matter of public health, this is settled (at least as far as the science is concerned).
So I’m not going to write about raw milk. I’m going to write about the Tragedy of David Gumpert. It’s a minor league tragedy in comparison with real tragedies, like the dismembered child in New York, or that woman whose drowned body wasn’t discovered for two days in Massachusetts, or that there are people still not able to find adequate medical care. It’s hardly poignant like great fictional tragedy, like Othello or the book version of The Natural (Roy Hobbs does not hit a homer off of the lights, but strikes out–How could Hollywood change that?) But it is tragic nonetheless in the low level why-do-the-Cubs-keep-losing- and-won’t-I-ever-see-a-pennant-in-my-lifetime kind of way.
Gumpert has become the Glenn Beck of the “food rights” movement. (No, this is not the right of foods to vote, marry each other, or not be eaten–it is the supposed right of any citizen to put into commerce whatever he or she deems is edible, though I daresay that that has as much sense. )The movement would have us believe that there exists in the Constitution something that they call food rights.
Historical aside: Some noted historians claim that Food Rights are found in the famous “Lost Amendments Scrolls,” purportedly written by Jefferson while in France (Jefferson was serving as Ambassador to France while the Constitutional Convention was meeting), and lost in transit on their way to the United States. Some scholars go on to say that someone paid to have these parchments hijacked and taken to the Barbary Coast by the hired pirates. On the beaches of North Africa one can occasionally find a pink-skinned American wearing something that looks like a medical detector, but is actually a parchment detector in the hands of a history buff. I know one guy, Apoteoso Arco-Balena’s father of all people, who regularly goes there on his vacation to look for such lost parchments. He never found any of interest in terms of American History, but he did find communications between Hannibal and his generals. Alas, Roman history didn’t interest him, and he sold them for a song–literally–and they eventually ended up in the National Museum in Iraq where they were lost during the pillaging of that institution during the recent sacking of Baghdad. Apparently, Apoteoso’s father, Heinrich, was convinced that Arabic covers of Connie Francis songs were to be the next big thing. He heard a band playing that very stuff at a night club in Oujda, and traded a band member the manuscripts for some low-quality cassette recordings and the international rights to their music. The band’s oud player, it turns out, was an out-of-work archaeologist who specialized in the Roman Conquest of North Africa. Having received a rather healthy sum for the parchments, he now lives in villa on the Costa Smeralda. Much to the dismay of his mother, he hasn’t touched his oud in years.
The Fightin’ Foodies usually fail to distinguish between the right to consume something and the right to enter something into commerce. No matter. In the mind of the zealot such distinctions are useless. The playbook is familiar: Take no quarter! Admit nothing negative! Attack on any level! Play victim! Reading the comments on Gumpert’s blog seem to bring to mind the worst groupthink tendencies of the our current political hostage takers. It seems that fanaticism in our country ranges from tax policy to what goes into your cereal bowl.
But, yesssssss, Gumpert’s Blog, a kind of Cosmic Convergence point of hokey-anna. A milky white hole, if such a thing existed, where misfit minds are sucked in and nothing with any sense escapes. First of all, it’s got a great title: The Complete Patient. Secondly, it’s a complete misnomer. It’s not about being a patient, and it’s far from complete. It’s a busted old harmonica that plays but one note, the one that the Gummint and Big Dairy are engaged in an not-so-secret evil plot to deprive the public of nature’s most miraculous food: milk that has not been pasteurized.