Thursday, May 25, 2017

Bright Lights in a Dark Place

The Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, United Kingdom, should have been a memorable night for her and her fans. And it was, for all the most horrible reasons.  

Despite the torrent of reports about the attack and the aftermath, even as the search for victims continues and the hunt for those responsible intensifies, there are no words to console those who lost a loved one to yet another senseless act of impotent and indiscriminate violence so I won’t even try.

Instead I will mention Chris Parker and Steve Jones, men of the moment who at the instant they were needed to help, in every way and in any way they could amidst the carnage and the chaos, did all that they could and more.

When the last of the hate-filled horrors masquerading as humans who inflict death and destruction on innocents has finally been caged or killed and all evidence of their evil existence has been wiped from the earth, we shall speak of Parker and Jones and selflessness.

How even in the darkest moment, they were points of light shining to show us the way.
-bill kenny   

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Finding and Binding the Nation's Wounds

If last week's heatwave gave us a small taste of summer to come, a look at the calendar suggests we're a lot closer than we may have thought with this coming Memorial Day holiday weekend serving as the starting pistol before the announcer intones, 'gentlemen, start your bbq's!"  

But, just before you start packing for the picnics, or the shore or, closer to home, taking in the Rotary Carnival that starts tomorrow night at Howard T. Brown Park and goes until Monday, if I may have just a moment to offer some words, and what passes for thoughts, that you may recall from years previous when the topic is Memorial Day.

I'm old enough to remember when we observed/celebrated holidays where they fell on the calendar. That whole 'let's roll things to the nearest Monday and give everyone a three-day weekend' craze hadn't started. Sometimes I'm not sure we might not be better off with a return to earlier times, but that's a thought for another day. 

Meanwhile, I'm probably the first to wish you the best for your Memorial Day holiday, which will be observed Monday. 

And to help in that observation there's a remembrance ceremony 
at The Memorial Park in Taftville, around the corner from the Knights of Columbus starting at ten dedicated to a Taftville native son Army Technician Fourth Grade Joseph Andre Carignan who served during World War II and who died on October 18, 1945. The Taftville VFW Post 2212 and the American Legion Post 104 do a wonderful job of organizing this event, as they do with so many others throughout the year. I always find time to attend and hope you will too.

If tradition is any indicator, there will be some remarks by local civic leaders and those who served in uniform around the world in both war and peace and who lived to come home and tell about it, as well as words of comfort from a clergy person.

And if you're like me, you'll look around at the metal folding chairs, all neatly aligned facing the podium and try to figure out how many of those who were there last year made it this year. That's a tricky subject. The memory of sacrifice only survives until the last person who remembers has passed.

You probably have a ceremony very much like it where you live today and for all those who died in this country's wars so you and I could wear "Kiss the Cook" aprons and "I'm with Stupid" tee-shirts, cook raw meat over hot rocks and drink a little too much beer, it's never too late in the day to say 'thank you' so I hope you try to attend.

At the ceremony in Taftville Monday, there'll be a contingent of Young Marines joined by some Sailors, still in training, from the Submarine Base. They will serve as ushers and perhaps as the color guard and after about three-quarters of an hour, we'll have said all that we have to say and we'll all go our separate ways. It's not very much time to honor those men and women who spoke the seventy words which make up the Oath of Enlistment and meant them in their fullest measure.

The United States has been doing memorial remembrances for those who served our nation for a long time--though not by other nation's standards, mind you. 

In comparison to the Great Nations of Europe, we are a snot-nosed kid (admittedly who saved the aforementioned great nations twice in the previous century) and who did a remarkable job of rebuilding enemies beyond both oceans, Germany and Japan, while serving as a bulwark against the Soviet Union for decades.

But in the Brave New World, it's long since become 'what have you done for us lately?' And new enemies, far more formidable than any we have encountered before, require vigilance and sacrifice.

These are times of turmoil in the Land of the Free. We have all manner of talking heads, 24/7 TV news stations and websites which pander to every political flavor in the rainbow and tolerance and accommodation are in awfully short supply. 

We've become heavily entrenched in and entranced with our own beliefs and are less interested than at any time since the Nativist movement in what anyone disagreeing with us has to say about anything.

Perhaps as a reminder to take into this holiday weekend and beyond, I can offer the seventy (and four) words which closed Abraham Lincoln's second Inaugural Address. 

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations." 
-bill kenny

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Judge a Craftsman by His Tools

I'm going to cheat (twice) on you in a single sentence; actually 'alt-fact' you might be a better and more in-tune with the times turn of phrase. Here goes: This is the most amazing thing I have read all week. It's oh-bright-early Tuesday and let's safely assume I wrote this at some point Monday so just how dramatic and sweeping a pronouncement is the one I made to start this paragraph, really?

Depends on how big you think voter fraud was last November when the losing candidate for the office of President received almost three million more popular votes than the person who won the Electoral College vote. How do you feel about Frederick Douglass, the Bowling Green Massacre, or how POTUS 45 has been 'treated worse or more unfairly in history'?

If you are related to or know anything about, Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and/or Kennedy, perhaps your reactions shouldn't count here in the brave new world beyond the pleasure dome where it's every man for himself and every woman should mind her place.

Me? Well, you already know I'm no fan of Donnie Dorito but I am tired of fellow-travelers who dislike him and think somehow excoriating the people who voted for him will simply change their minds on the choice they made in November. It's not so much not only 'ain't gonna happen,' as it is magical thinking. I do, however, take some solace in a quote from Alexander Hamilton who, two centuries before Trump, called him out.

Unless and until the audiences Halpern's article speaks about experience the strain and pain of betrayal and/or are made to pay the cost of their misplaced trust, we will continue to have at least Two Americas who speak AT but rarely TO one another.

Perhaps if the sons and daughters of those who voted for Mr. Trump were caught in a classic Trump Trap like this one, we could have a dialogue. Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the back of patience and forbearance but I wouldn't put a lot of money on that bet.

As long as the Effetes and Elites are pitted against the Adorable Deplorables we'll all just continue to run to the nearest barricade for our side and hurl invective and abuse at one another while the late, great United States dissolves into three hundred million plus Republics of Me. By then it'll be too late for talk and anyway we won't be able to hear one another over the noise.
-bill kenny

Monday, May 22, 2017

Your Move, Hallmark

We could be so much smarter if we used the internet to do something other than take and send pictures of ourselves eating food or cats (that is, pictures of cats; I think pictures of someone eating cat might put the permanent kibosh on taking pictures of what we are eating), but because we are creatures endowed with free will, we choose not to become smart.

At least I don't (so far).
I'm six and half decades along on this ride and remain dumber than a box of rocks, not said with pride but, rather, with a keen sense of my own very real limitations. So I try to use the voluminous information available to me via the world wide web but have discovered I am working on draining an ocean of information with a teaspoon, meaning some of settling of contents in shipment may occur (most of mine have settled just above my belt).

Here's some "I did not know that" just for today: Today is National Vanilla Pudding Day; on a more serious note (as all the lesser ones were sort of already taken), it's also National Maritime Day (where all nautical gifts should be on sail; didja see what I did there <==? Oh, you did). And today, most fittingly (don't ask) is also National Buy a Musical Instrument Day.

I can tell from the sharp intake of breath that you are amazed at my adroitness and ability (or you have asthma, which also starts with an "A"), but you needn't be. Just click here, and sign up for the National Day Calendar, and you'll (almost) always be in the loop and before you mock me for finding something like that, let's remember which one of us clicked on the link, last.

That whole stone casting guidance applies whether we have rainy day women or not. And let a smile be your umbrella if you want to gargle snow. However, and  I appreciate the efforts of calendarists everywhere to keep me current, I still had to find out for myself that today is World Goth Day (pause for effect).

As the site itself notes, I have to assume enthusiastically and with fervor, "The party is NOT over yet, either..." At least not until someone large sings and with this crowd, that's not going to happen.
-bill kenny

Sunday, May 21, 2017


I ended up suddenly with a new cell phone earlier last week. It was last weekend I figured out, almost by myself except for my son and daughter helping, that I had a really teeny-tiny memory card on my cell phone and that I, and the phone, would be better off with a bigger one.  

Off to Memories R Us where I purchased a new card and put in it the phone all by myself, eventually, after understanding how to transfer what was already on the tiny memory card to the new one so that when I swapped them out, everything would be swell. So pleased was I that I sent my son a text to tell him I had swapped out the one GB card for a sixteen. His response puzzled me: 'since it's almost time for a new phone, that should be fine.' 

I pondered that line for some time. I had (note the past tense of the verb) a Note 4 whose capabilities far exceeded my expectations, and, to be honest, my capabilities as well. It allowed me to make phone calls (I have the phone for my convenience, not yours), take pictures and listen to music. Anything and everything beyond that was gravy. It came with a stylus I never even used.

And now I never shall. At some point in the morning Monday, the phone stopped working completely, never to function again. I was, truth to tell, really looking forward to this July and NOT having that monthly installment payment on the phone bill paying off the phone but I suppose I'll reset my sights on July of 2019 now and hope, as I always do, the phone expires before I do.   
-bill kenny

Saturday, May 20, 2017

When Penile Surgery Is Covered by Insurance

I woke up horribly ill this past Wednesday. I got up at my normal getting up time but within two minutes knew I was not going anywhere near work (which would have cheered legions of coworkers which was one of the reasons why I didn't tell them), so I called my boss and left an 'I'm not coming in today' phone message and went back to bed. 

A few hours' sleep later and feeling considerably better I walked to the market to get a salad for lunch and to check out how, at the intersection with Harland Road where going left magically puts you on CT Routes 2 and 12, the sidewalk repair is coming along. 

The answer seems to be: it's not, at least not very quickly. I walked past the site at close to lunch I suppose and the work crew was at a table under the shade of the trees in front of the Leffingwell House Museum while two (I counted them) police cars, one with lights flashing, hugged the sidewalk that you could still walk on. I couldn't tell you what the cops were doing as my ability to accurately detect 'protect and serve' is sometimes a little impaired. 

Less impaired, thankfully for the sake of telling of today's tale, is my sense of irony because on the walk back from the market, past the (Fantasy) island (with Herve V shouting, 'the cars! the cars!') rolling right off the connector like he had a deed to the road in the glovebox of the car (because he probably did) was someone, most certainly not from here, in a cranberry-colored Maserati Levante, a sport-utility vehicle for someone who already has a Lincoln Continental pick-up truck and whose Porsche SUV in the shop because the tires once touched the unpaved road.

Some of us have more brains than sense; sure hope he was heading to one of the casinos because they have just the thing for that cash-flow problem.
-bill kenny 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Willie Nailed It

We are having gorgeous weather where I live right now and deserve as much of it as we can get. It's why the Good Lord gave us two hands to takes as much as we want and two pockets to put it all in. I'm pretty sure that's in the Bible someplace if you know where to look and squint really hard. 

And yet despite the blue skies and green lights for you and yours and me and mine, I am still able to get my knickers in a knot over a story like this. It brings to mind a recollection I have about Steve Dallas the attorney (sort of) originally of Bloom County fame having traveled back in time as part of Outland, holding a trembling and broken Hitler in his arms, very much the worse for wear and war, during what is obviously closing time down in the bunker, all the while cooing "repeat after me, 'I'm a victim, too.'" 

Psychological damages. Seriously? You have an attorney who will be able to offer this complaint with a straight face? Adds new meaning to Dexy's C'mon Eileen
-bill kenny