T P O

T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
an irreligious blog
with egalitarian and individualist tendencies!


On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!


Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Tous sont les bienvenus!

Intelligent comments are always welcome!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Wonder of Wonders - by Hénock Gugsa


Wonder of Wonders *
--------------
by Hénock Gugsa

 

Wonder of wonders, folks. I ran into Donald the other day at Lake Calhoun.

The "Duck" is well, by the way ... a bit exhausted from all that politicking he did recently in America's bounteous ponds. He's gained quite a bit of weight what with every one of his constituents pushing seeds, grasses, bugs, and little yummy snails in front of him all the time.

However, his run for the Presidency came to naught. We all knew that would be the outcome going in, but poor Donald of-course didn't. He told me that he is now totally cured of politics and plans to spend the rest of his duck days doing the things he is best at ... waddling, musing, and from time to time quacking just for the hell of it.

I asked Donald what he ponders about most.

He fluttered his wings once, and without missing a beat, said, "Why the American psyche of-course. What else?"

I said, "What do you mean, Donnie Boy? What about the American psyche?"

"Sheesh," he said, " You're the only one that calls me that! I ain't no damn Irish. I'm an American thru and thru. And I live and breathe America, don't you know that?"

I apologized and offered him a piece of aquatic delicacy to calm his nerves. Then, I pressed on with my interview of the great man, er duck.

He sat on his rump and stretched out his old legs and let them dangle in the water.

"I am worried about the American psyche," he began, "The recent financial debacle on Wall Street is sending tremors of fear and unease all thru the land."

I asked, "Do you think that Obama is up to the challenge?"

"Well, he seems to have a good team behind him. They'll be shovel-ready, don't worry."

"So what is worrying you?"

"My friend, it is them so-called experts that are messing with our heads, telling us this and that about where we are and where we are headed. What do they know? And some of them, they call themselves, 'financial advisers'. They mess with the American psyche telling us about the 'right' investment strategies. They talk about credit cycles and, get this, about solid data-driven financial analyses that will ensure success in our investment ventures. First, they assure us, then they caution us.It's enough to make your head spin."

I nodded in agreement, and he was emboldened to continue.

"I ask you, how much can the American psyche take? They tell you to access your brain, a new fangled way of telling you to think. These advisers guarantee that they are hard-wired to the raw data out there, but the prognostications depend on the behavior of us Americans. They say our future depends on our core values, yours and mine. True enough. But, what if our values-based behavior is affected by the fear factor emanating from the pit of our stomachs? Should we make decisions by proxy, or should we just adhere to the herd mentality? Should we hedge our funds, and should we continue being free to be greedy? And what about our x,y,z expectations? Should we not buy into the crisis of confidence in the market? Should we keep holding on to losing positions? And yet, thru all of this, the financial advisers fail to mention that they themselves have vested interests in the things they are pushing.They also neglect to tell you one very important detail: The system has no fail-safe mechanism."

"Whoa, this is all doom and gloom," I said with worry in my voice.

Donald thought for a moment before he replied. Then, with a glint in his eyes, he said, "Well, pal. We shouldn't let those dastards and fools sway us this way and that. We Americans know what is a useful activity and what is not.  Financial positions? pfftt! There are only three positions you can have with your money.You can spend it, you can save it, or you can invest it. Now, for spending you have checking accounts and credit cards. You can still save your money the old-fashioned way in a savings account. Your social security funds and pension plans (401Ks) can be considered savings ... but it is a stretch, I know. Then, you can invest in stocks and bonds. I heard one old geezer say that the best investment strategy these days is 'insured guaranteed bonds' or certificates of deposits."

"Wow, that is a lot to digest, Donald. But tell me what is your own investment strategy?"

A small quack escaped from his orange beak. But he managed to reply, "Easy. I invest in bird seeds. What else?!"


___________________________

* Originally posted at politico.com  in April, 2009


The Pachyderms’ Demise - by Hénock Gugsa




The Pachyderms' Demise
------------------
by Hénock Gugsa

The pachyderm

Thirty years! Has it been that long? Thirty long years! I’ve been gone ... and I've been hibernating for thirty years!  And now I’ve awoken, and I’m back down here visiting my cousin Sam. This neighborhood sure has changed a lot, and the humans that used to run it have undergone some kind of morphosis. It seems that, for some obscure reason, the Pachydermean party is now insanely committed to self-destruction. Their total downfall is without doubt imminent and irreversible.

Sam finds a lot to worry about, especially about his neighborhood. But it all suits him just fine. Always scowly and cantankerous, he has hardly changed at all except for a few new facial tics, mostly around his mouth.  His whiskers now have an unfamiliar jitter, and I find them quite disconcerting.


When I walked into his living room, Sam did not even bother to get up off his rocking chair and shake my paw. He merely nodded and said, “Hello, Rupert. Whatcha up to? Been drinking from a Van Winkle well, eh? You’ve outdone the old dutchman though, haven’t you?!”

But, this ribbing didn’t bother me too much. He was never very well-mannered anyways. And besides, all the folks down here act kind of crazy one way or another, not like us up north where the long winters have made us more temperate and considerate.

After a while, I was sitting by Sam’s side and chewing the fat with him. I asked how he was doing in the never-ending task of food-hoarding. He said that there was no problem there, Mother Nature has always been very generous. It was the humans that were worrying him. He said that he was deathly afraid of the pachyderms in particular. They are getting more and more rabid, he further proclaimed. Then, he began to give a detailed account of the state of things in Samlandia ....

Barely two weeks ago, Doug, the pachyderm who lived two blocks away, had shot and killed two of Sam’s friends, Peetie and Pearl. The reason – It seems Doug was upset when he found out they had made their domicile under the hood of his old Ford pickup truck. He flew into a rage at what he considered an unforgivable encroachment on his property. It did not matter that the old truck had been sitting in his driveway for the last three years … out of commission and just rusting away. But Sam knew the real cause for Doug’s psychotic episode.

Now, to be sure, my cousin Sam's home was on a sturdy, well-hidden tree limb a safe distance away from the aforementioned tragic site. But all the same, Sam had always been leery of Doug, and watched the old curmudgeon very closely but from afar.  He observed that Doug constantly
listened to and watched the raving pachyderm lunatics on the radio and the television. Doug worshiped Annie C, Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, and Savage.  

Strangely, the lies, the hate, and the anger that were being avidly received in Doug’s house were actually the norm in many households in the neighborhood. That may explain why the pachyderms, although recently dethroned, still have considerable clout in  Samlandia. They are peerless and tireless in distorting and denying truth and fairness. Their negativity knows no bounds, and they seem to always be in a huffy state of anger and disaffection. In short, they are a depressing lot.

What riles and intrigues Sam the most is that he cannot fathom the sense or motivating force behind the pachyderms’ behavior in all matters politique. How long can they subvert and circumvent long-term measures for the common good with obvious lies about laissez-faire, go-it-alone, individual rapaciousness? And yet, Sam observed, the pachyderms were never satisfied even when they were in power. And when they brag about their former leader, Ronaldo, they conveniently forget that he started a trend for reckless spending and military adventures. Fortunately, soon after that, the mordicant Guillermo ascended to power and straightened out all of that mess. But, that did not last long. Jorge, one of the worst pachyderms in Samlandia’s history, took over for the next eight years. He had this thing for compassion ... er, compassion for the rich and greedy, that is.  During his reign, everything that could go wrong did, and the pachyderms suddenly started burying their heads under the sand. They claimed everything was hunky-dory and whatever went wrong was Guillermo’s and the mordicants’ fault. And now at long last, the pachyderms have easily achieved the unimaginable … they have started to believe their own lies!

As Sam recounted all of this, my head was reeling with disbelief and despair. Although my home is Mooselandia, I have always had a lot of fondness for Samlandia. Also I have a lot of kinfolk down here. However, unlike Sam, most of them, I’m sad to say, are pachyderm cheerleaders. Too bad.  They must not have heard about Peetie and Pearl!

Zounds! I've had enough of this melancholia. So I quickly get up off the wicker chair and gather up my knapsack. “I’m going back to my beloved Mooselandia,” I declare with indignation in my voice. 


“I think you should come up north with me, Sam. You can make as good a living there if you want.  Civilized society up there for sure.”

“No, thanks,” says Sam. “I’m not giving these jerks that satisfaction. I’m gonna stick it out to the end! They’re gonna sink from their own weight soon, mark my words.  And, I'm sure glad they haven't yet taken a contract out on Samlandia like they did back in '94!” He winces and sighs undramatically.

Anon, he gets up off his chair and gives me a warm hug. No real surprise there. I’ve always known that, deep down, Sam was always a softie! 


"Sam"
 



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

National Census Blues - by Hénock Gugsa





National Census Blues
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by Hénock Gugsa




Well, here we go again! It's time for the decadal absurdity known as the National Census. But, this year somehow the irritation factor is kind of a mixed bag. I don't know if I can really say there's been any improvements. The real improvement would be when they do away with it completely, or at least just stick to counting heads ... stop the ridiculous breakdowns (categorizations) and nonsensical probings!


HG: Hey, honey, the questions about race are one for the books. Choice #1 - Black, African American, Negro ...Choice #2- White ... Choice #3- Hispanic ...[and that is broken down into three or four groups] ...etc.

JG (chuckling): Well, whatcha gonna do?

HG: Wait, here. The last item on the list is "Other." I'll go for that. There is a blank space where you can specify what you mean. I'll put down "Alien."

JG: Well, now. You better behave. We don't want them on our case now.

HG: Okay, then. I'll put down "Abyssinian." They can't do anything about that. Besides it's the truth.

JG: They'll think you're a cat.

HG: And that's not such a bad thing, dear!