Fun with words and words for fun

What The Hell Are We Doing? 

quill-pen-300x300What the hell are we doing? We like to think our teachers and our leaders know better, whatever better means. We like to think they know what they are doing and we try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Very often, because we are busy or simply interested in other things, we defer to their judgment, again with the notion that we trust their judgment.

But what the hell are we doing? Really?

So let’s start here. Many of the key executives of the major internet and computer companies don’t allow their own children to have unrestricted use of electronic equipment in their lives, or, these parents carefully determine what use their kids will have from computers, tablets, cell-phones, calculators and other electronics. Their rationale is that they want their children to use their minds, use their brains, develop their brains. If their children rely upon computers and calculators to do things for them without knowing how to do them themselves, these parents think, their children’s brains will not develop as they were meant to and their children will not learn the things they need to learn to get along well in this world. These parents, of all parents, have the research on these matters. They use the research to benefit themselves and their children and then use it not to benefit us, the consumers who buy their products.

As business people and computer developers whose livelihoods depend upon sales of computers and software, etc., they go into their daily business lives and push the sale of these machines and their software which encourage people, including other people’s kids, to use them all the time. In fact, they build into these machines and into the social media on them devices that will capture and retain choices made and footprints taken such that the machines will continue offering new choices the executives know with a high degree of certainty will be exercised. Or, these same people who restrict their own children’s use of machines build machines that continually lead people to disregard their minds and follow what are often subconscious messages to continue usage.

On some level it is called mind control.

So a teacher was standing in the hall in a high school in the Bronx, NY during a change of periods. The teacher was watching the kids go by, ushering them on to their next classes  and welcoming the kids coming into her classroom. A kid that the teacher didn’t know, maybe fifteen or sixteen, stopped by her and asked her what time it was. Across the hall and maybe five feet away was the clock on the wall, a prominent clock that stood out over the doorways.

“There’s the clock,” the teacher said.

“I can’t read it,” the child said.

It was an analog clock and like so many children nowadays this child had never learned to tell time. This was a  child of the digital, electronic world. This child could not spell whole words but this child could text in text code where you is u and love is luv and things are said with abbreviations. DGMW BTW LOL IOW WTF.

Got it? They can’t read, they can’t write, they can’t tell time, they can’t multiply, divide or figure out the right amount of change without a machine. And those same people who don’t permit their own kids to end up like this and without a context of real basic knowledge push our kids and us too to become dependent upon their machines.

What the hell are we doing?

TBC

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Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

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Bill Wynn 3 (a repost)

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Originally posted in October 2016, this is the third Bill Wynn outtake.

The line marched. All the prisoners were still shackled, so like before, the marching was actually shuffling. Prison doors were buzzed open as the line approached, buzzed shut when it had passed through. The bleeder was conspicuously absent. Bill wouldn’t see him again until the next morning at chow. He had two swollen eyes sure to turn black and a fat lip.

First stop was check-in. The new inmates were issued workhouse blues. The shirts had the letter of the dorm they were assigned to. Sure enough, Bill’s had the capital D. They got one pair of socks, two pairs of underwear, one pair of soft slip-on sneakers, no laces, a sheet, pillow case, blanket and towel.

Next stop was strip search and delousing. It was here, just before they entered, that the shackles were removed. Then, inside, it was kind of like a high school locker room without lockers. There were flat benches and a half wall with an entrance in the middle beyond which were showers. They were ordered to put their prison issue on the benches and to strip. When they were all nude, they were lined up before the benches and strip searched. They had to use the bench to lean on to spread their cheeks. No surprise, they checked everywhere, everywhere being in the nostrils, in the mouth, under the armpits, under the testicles, in the anus and between the toes.

That done, they had to shower. The guards stayed at the half wall. They did this twice a day, every day so they were bored and disinterested. They talked amongst themselves, joked with each other. One told about how the bleeder had been worked over. Another was eyeing Bill. He would be the one to lead Bill to the barber.

In here the guards only carried night sticks. Several of them tapped the sticks on the wall. One paced back and forth along the wall dragging the stick on the wall making a big racket. He asked one of his friends how many asses his stick had been up. His friend said more than his number of fingers and they laughed. He said he thought the stick was pointing to the hippie.

They timed the showers, three minutes start to finish. Then the inmates stood there in the shower area. They were lined up and sprayed with chemical delousing fluid. The sprayers wore rubber suits, rubber boots and gas masks.

Dried off, dressed in the workhouse uniforms, the inmates packed up their street clothes. Private property had been sent along from lockup, taken from them before the bus ride over. Bill noted that one guard, the one who had talked about his stick, kept hanging over him.

“This stick meant for that hippie queer,” the guard said to his friends. “I’m gonna walk him into D dorm personally, show them how pretty he is. Then I’m taking him over to the barber. Make sure he get the haircut he needs.”

“Man, leave the boy alone. He ain’t done nothing to you,” one of his coworkers said.

“I’m gonna make him eat this stick,” the guard said.

“Let’s get this group of misfits settled in,” the sergeant said.

“Move it along you assholes,” one of the guards said as they marched the inmates along. “No talking. Look straight ahead. Arm’s length from the man in front.”

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

Bill Wynn 2 (a repost)

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Originally posted in October 2016, this is the second Bill Wynn outtake.

The bus arrived about 2:00 PM. Just like in the movies on TV, the prisoners were in foot and hand shackles so they shuffled as the length of the foot chain allowed, their hands in front of them tied to their feet.

Stepping down off the bus was tricky. One boy no older than Bill Wynn who was just twenty-one tripped and tumbled down off the bus. He couldn’t use his hands to protect himself in the fall and stood up with a bloody nose. He didn’t really stand up. Two jail guards pulled him up by the shackles. Bill saw that the handcuff part cut one of his wrists. The boy stood there bleeding at his wrist and with blood dripping down his face from his nose.

“Goddamn dirty pig soiling our yard here,” one of the guards said.

A different guard stepped up to him. “You gonna pay for this, motherfucker,” he said. “You gonna pay for it and you gonna clean it up. Whitey,” he called, “ get someone to bring the bucket and brush.”

Everyone off the bus, the guards lined up the prisoners. There were about fifteen of them by the time the bus had made all the stops for the pickups. Bill was scared worse than he’d ever recalled being scared. He was trying not to cry, trying to look tough and trying to take in everything going on around him all at once. Somehow his eyes must’ve met the eyes of one of the guards because of a sudden that guard was in his face.

“You eyeballing me boy?” he said loudly, so close to Bill that Bill could feel the guard’s breath on his face and smell his stale lunch too.

“No.”

“No what?”

Bill had no clue what he was supposed to say. “No officer,” he finally managed.

“You call me sir, boy.”

“Yes sir,” Bill said.

“Lookee here,” the guard said. “We got us a bona-fide genuine hippie boy.”

All the guards came over. They all wore side arms and carried shotguns. One guard cocked his shotgun and said “I see the slightest motion out the corner of my eye while I’m checking out this here hippie, I’m shooting at it first and asking about it after I shoot.”

“I’ll be damned,” one guard said.

“Remember the hippie we checked in this morning?” another one said.

“I heard he enjoyed the strip search. You gonna enjoy the strip search, boy?”

Bill did not answer.

Another guard, one who had not spoken, poked Bill in the ribs with the butt of his shotgun. “Didn’t you hear him ask you a question?”

“Yes sir,” Bill said.

“Well?” the same guard said, prodding Bill’s ribs with the shotgun with each word. “Answer his fucking question. You like it up the ass? You look like a faggot to me.”

“No sir,” Bill said.

“You a queer?”

“No sir.”

“We gonna put you in D dorm with the toughs,” the sergeant said. He hadn’t spoken before either. He stepped close to Bill. “Course that’s after the barber gets done with you.”

The sergeant stepped off and told the guards to start marching the inmates in. Just before they did, an inmate came out carrying a bucket with a brush inside it. Bill noted the inmate, in workhouse blues, was an albino.

“Thanks, whitey,” the sergeant said. “Okay now, Mr. Sharp,” he said to one of the guards, “hold the line while the bleeder cleans up his mess.”

One guard pushed the bleeder forward and forced him down to his knees. Another pushed the bucket forward with his foot, not caring that water was splashing the inmate on his knees.

The line of prisoners stood watching while the still bleeding inmate scrubbed the cement with the bristle brush. He stopped only to keep wiping his face with his sleeve so he didn’t bleed on the ground anymore.

“Anyone else wanna bleed?” one of the guards asked.

No one said anything.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

Bill Wynn 1 (a repost)

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Originally posted in October 2016, this is the first Bill Wynn outtake.

Bill was on probation. He got three weeks in the workhouse and a two hundred-fifty dollar fine. He actually  spent seventeen days in jail and they waived the fine, but he came away from it all pretty broken and with a police record to boot. The police record meant he couldn’t get a job so he had no money, no prospective income, nowhere to turn for help except his probation officer.

Those days, the probation officer determined how often you had to report. Bill reported the week after he was released from the workhouse since that was required. Bailey, his PO, made the next face-to-face for four weeks away and decided regular visits were to be monthly. Bill wasn’t exactly a flight risk or a danger. He was busted at an anti-war protest and still insisted he hadn’t done what they said he did. It reminded him of a character in a story who said they had the papers on him so he guessed he did what they said he did. Then he said he didn’t really remember and it didn’t matter  anyway.

That first monthly visit changed Bill’s life. He just didn’t know it at the time. That’s when he met Robert, the guy in workhouse blues who looked like he was going to cry. Bill offered him a cigarette, but he said he didn’t smoke. Bill told him he didn’t have any money otherwise he would have given it to him for his commissary. Robert asked him how he knew about the commissary. Bill told him he just got out a month ago.

Bailey was sympathetic to Bill’s plight. Bill wanted Bailey to help him get a job. Any kind of job, Bill told him. “I don’t care what the hell it is,” he said. “I can’t pay my rent.” Bailey said he’d do what he could.

Bill didn’t have much hope. He didn’t have much hope about getting a job or about Bailey helping him. He lay in bed at night remembering. The judge banged down the gavel and then he was clad in shackles on the bus to the workhouse. He had that sick feeling deep in the pit of his stomach. That feeling would never leave him again, never, although sometimes it would go on hiatus for different periods of time, some of them even longer periods.

“Policemen don’t lie,” the judge said. The judge’s name was Shul. They called him “hang ’em high Shul,” because he was the toughest, most conservative judge they had there in Columbus. The town itself was quite conservative once you were away from the university area. Bill had  been walking downtown and a cop singled him out from about fifteen people who were crossing in the middle of the block and not in the crosswalk.

“Giving you a jaywalking ticket,” he said.

“What about all the others who were with me?”

“Shut up you goddamn hippie.”

Bill started to say something but the cop cut him off. “Say another word and I’ll run you in,” he said.

Bill didn’t go back downtown again until he was visiting his PO. By then, after the workhouse, you’d never have known he was a hippie.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

Fiction Outtakes 214: Bill Wynn 200

kitchen-4

So Mr. Jim made a speech. His wife, also gray-haired, also smallish, stood by his side and held his hand. It was charming to look at and a rather tender moment altogether. Henry Lee stood by Alfreda and held her hand. Marie stood alone. Bill stood by Mary who wanted to hold his hand but wouldn’t reach out for it. So next best thing was to stand close enough to him so her hip brushed up against his. Every now and then she shifted on her feet and made sure that he felt her against him.

Mary had done her makeup in a way Bill always liked. She wore no facial powder except a touch of rouge on her cheekbones. Her nails and her lipstick were deep purple. That purple drove Bill crazy. He wondered if her toenails were done in the same color and when he asked her, she slipped one foot out of her shoe enough for him to see that they were. He was the only man to date that had ever kissed her toes, even licked them and kissed her feet all over. That drove her crazy.

Drenovis looked bored out of his wits. He probably would have skipped the whole thing if he could have, but Mr. Bowman was not letting that happen. Robert stood next to Bea whose husband had come simply because he knew Mr. Jim and his family and he wanted to be there for them. Bea was not happy about Mr. Bea being there, but she had no choice. So on one level, for as wonderful an event as it was for Mr. Jim and his family and even for Suburban, that’s how awkward a moment it was for some of the staff.

Mr. Jim’s speech chronicled his kitchen life. He spoke briefly about being one of the few people of color in those days to graduate high school and be lucky enough to get a job even though it was a beginning job as a kitchen worker on the railroad. He spoke about hard work and perseverance, about simply showing up and being there all the time. He spoke about being the best pot washer they’d ever had and then being the best dishwasher they ever had. He talked about his good fortune when one of the railroad cooks died. While it was not the cook’s misfortune, he was lucky enough to be given an opportunity. He talked about how that opportunity only materialized because he had shown up and done a prideful job all the time.

Mr. Jim spoke in detail about what it was like to be a chef on the dining cars. He spoke about learning all he could from the other cooks around him and from the chefs. He said he was happy in his older age to be able to pass that on to many younger boys who were up-and-coming on the railroad. He said he knew that using the word boy might offend some people, but, he said, being in his sixties meant that kids in their late teens were just boys. He remarked that there were no girls in the kitchens in those days, and Bill could testify to the fact that there really weren’t many girls in the kitchens even into the eighties.

Mr. Jim attributed all his success to his wife of nearly fifty years. She, almost alone, raised their kids, this because he was away most of the time. In the older days, sometimes when the trains were going long distance, the chefs traveled with the trains. He said he was proud to have accomplished what he accomplished but that the trade-off was being away from his family. He had missed a lot of his kids’ growing up, but, he said, he was happy that at least he could be there to watch his grandchildren grow up.

Well, Bill thought, if that speech don’t shame us all. He wondered if Mary, Bea, Henry Lee and Alfreda were thinking the same thing.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

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Bill Wynn: The First Hundred

Fiction Outtakes 213: Bill Wynn 199

kitchen-4

Bill was washing potatoes at the sink on Mary’s station. He was gonna leave them in the sink, fill up the hors d’oeuvre trays and carry them down. Most of the hors d’oeuvres were sitting on the shelves in the convection oven, the oven where the baked potatoes were cooked. Alfreda stepped up behind him at the sink and helped herself to an immodest feel of him. For his part, Bill tried to but could not quite sidestep her, and as she pressed him into the sink so he couldn’t step away, she could feel him responding to her touch.

“You like that, huh white boy?” She pressed harder on him and tried to work her hand inside his kitchen pants. “Think me and Bea and Mary don’t talk about you? You know I’m starting to feel left out.”

“Jesus Christ,” Bill said. Then an impulse hit him. The water still running, he turned from the sink, grabbed Alfreda tight. He forced his lips over hers and pressed his tongue into her mouth. As he kissed her, he reached under her dress. When his fingers reached where they aimed and he began to explore her, she melted in his arms and ravaged him with her own kisses.

“You know we have to get back,” he said.

“Don’t punk out on me, baby. I’m telling you it’s okay.”

“It ain’t okay.”

“We have to finish this,” she said.

“We don’t have to finish anything. We need to get our asses back downstairs and be at the party with Mr. Jim and his family.”

“C’mon,” Alfreda said. “We got a few minutes and no one’s coming up here. Take me into Tommy’s office and do me.”

“I’ll do you, when hell freezes over,” Bill said.

All this while Bill’s hand was exploring up under Alfreda’s dress. For her it was a mission accomplished. Appearing to have given up the fight since she didn’t respond to what he said, she reached under her skirt and helped Bill’s hand do exactly what she wanted it to do. She was well on her way to getting exactly what she came upstairs for so she closed her eyes and kissed Bill again, long, hard and deep.

It was over when Alfreda had had a nice shiver. She started to get down on her knees but Bill stopped her.

“What’s a matter baby? I can do it real fast,” she said, licking her lips with her tongue.

“Not here, not now.”

“Come on, live dangerously.”

“Goddammit,” Bill said. “Not now.”

Again Alfreda did not bother to take up the fight. Somewhere deep inside her, Bill would find out later, she already knew that she had him and that she would have him and that there was nothing poor Bill could do to stop her. He would find this out on the floor of the Suburban van, while Alfreda straddled him and helped herself to more of him than any woman should have been having except for his fiancé. Only by the grace of God—and a lot of things were happening by the grace of God although Bill could not see it at the time—Bill’s fiancé was up in Cleveland celebrating the new year and the school’s vacation break with her parents and friends.

So they went back down to the party room, each of them carrying trays of hors d’oeuvres to set into the steam table. This they did, each of them, efficiently and deftly. Having emptied their trays, they placed them on a bus boy stand in the corner the party room. Bill immediately went over to the bar and took himself a glass half-full with bourbon. Alfreda followed him and because the bar was open and she could have what she wanted to drink, she had Bebe fix her a vodka and tonic.

While they were both at the bar Henry Lee sidled over. “Been upstairs of my wife, huh?” he said to Bill.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

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Bill Wynn: The First Hundred

Beyond Stupidity: Insanity (a repost)

broken governmentOriginally posted 7/14/17

Somewhere in the neighborhood of seven thousand military personnel have been killed since 9/11 and the number of wounded is conservatively about thirty-three thousand. Some estimates are a lot higher. But the government-run VA is broken, its leaders corrupt, and the politicians capable of effecting change are inept and themselves more devoted to special interest groups than to the Vets. To think the VA can go on as it is and fix itself from within is insanity.

Even more insane is our having gone into Afghanistan. The Russians fought there for some nine years and we experienced the long, protracted Viet Nam war. Insanity to think we could have done better in Afghanistan.

Ditto education. Our education system is broken. We let special interest groups contribute vast sums of money to our legislators to maintain the status quo. In turn, we throw more and more money into a system that has continually shown it does not work as it is supposed to. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results: insanity.

Our inner cities are broken. From one to the next to the next, they are crime-ridden, drug-infested and steeped in poverty. If one states the facts as they are, one is branded a racist. The same Democratic leadership has run these cities the same way for more than fifty years and it keeps getting elected. Insanity.

Social Security funding was supposed to be tucked away and left only to fund Social Security. Nevertheless our leaders have dipped into those dedicated funds repeatedly. Any wonder the system is going broke? Insanity. Even if we refund it, would it be reasonable to expect our leaders not to break it again? Have our leaders ever shown themselves to be fiscally responsible? If we believe they suddenly will become so now, aren’t we being insane?

There’s no limit to the insanity which abounds today. You have to sign it to see what’s in it was a new height in crazy. Hug a terrorist, however, seems to give it a run for the top position. Yes, that’s what we should do. We should offer the terrorists who are hell-bent upon destroying our way of life hugs, money, jobs and counseling. Insanity.

Dare we talk about the bathroom laws? the identity laws?  the medical laws? A doctor is now expected to treat a patient in accordance with the gender s/he identifies with on the day of treatment as opposed to the biological status. Beyond insanity, honestly. Apparently those self-identification rules are all good except on April fifteenth when one wants to identify him/herself as being poor to avoid paying taxes. They break down there, when it comes to paying taxes. Even if you identify as poor you still have to pay up.

Ditto HHS. Ditto CPS, IRS, Medicare, Medicaid and on and on. These days, even the FBI is broken.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. One would like to think that the government really does want to take care of our veterans and that overall it has good intentions toward its citizens. But in today’s United States, that thought reflects a certain insanity. With the advent of career politicians and their overwhelming support of virtually unregulated super PACs and lobbyists, it is clear that our leaders’ goal is only reelection. Taking care of the country, even particular constituents, is merely a by-product, and more often lip service.

We are now locked into a government comprised of politicians whose only purpose is sustaining their position and maintaining their power. This is Social Darwinism (On Social Darwinism). And that has led us to insanity.

Pick up a copy of my published works here: Books by Peter Weiss.

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Bill Wynn: The First Hundred