Category Archives: Culture

Debate Follies

Did you watch the recent Republican presidential debate? Yes? No? Well, I did, and I sure came away with some definite impressions.

First, let me get the matter of the questioners’ conduct out of the way. Let’s just say that they won’t be getting any awards for brilliance: “What is your biggest weakness?” This is a question worth asking? What was the expectation? That each of the participants would admit to being an idiot? The answers, such as they were, were no more intelligent than the question. While things didn’t get much worse than that, they certainly didn’t get a lot better.

Still, the real issue is what we heard from the nomination seekers. Let’s start with Jeb Bush.

Bush, in the face of falling poll numbers and correspondingly falling contributions, decided it would be a good idea to attack fellow Floridian Marco Rubio. It was a mistake from which he never recovered, as Rubio’s response demolished him. Already lackluster, Bush did nothing during the debate to make himself attractive as the party’s nominee.

Carly Fiorina didn’t so much as flame out as, well, not flame in. Her problem is that she was an awful CEO at Hewlett-Packard, presiding over the disastrous acquisition by HP of Compaq and watching HP stock tank as a result. No matter what she says, she obviously couldn’t manage HP effectively, and as a result can’t convince people that she can manage the country.

Ben Carson? Wake me when he wakes up. I swear, listening to him is better than Ambien. If, however, you do listen to him, what you’ll learn is that a) he’s a religious nut and b) he knows nothing about taxation, budgeting, or how he’d work with Congress.

Donald Trump wasn’t even very entertaining. Maybe he was depressed over the fact that Carson leads him in several polls. Or maybe he was just tired. Or maybe he’s so far out of his league in terms of knowledge of how to govern that he simply couldn’t say anything substantive.

John Kasich was more animated than in his prior debate exposure, but every sentence out of his mouth seemed to start with, “In my state of Ohio,” a repetitive mantra that ultimately was boring. John, we know you take credit for everything good about Ohio, but how the hell will you do it all for the country?

Ted Cruz, who all the political pundits say is a great debater, seems to be great only at not answering the questions he’s asked. One may give him credit for his diatribe against the media, but it’s old hat. All Republicans complain about the media, the War on Christmas, welfare cheats, Planned Parenthood… So, Ted, tell us something we haven’t heard from the Tea Party. Do you really want this whiny guy to occupy the White House? And given his background, analogous to that of President Obama, why aren’t other Republicans asking for his birth certificate?

It’s hard to know where to begin with Mike Huckabee. Personable, articulate, and somewhere out there beyond left field. Just listen to what he says. You want to live in a Christian theocracy? He’s your guy. Well, unless you want to be even more fundamental with Carson.

Chris Christie comes across like a charging, belligerent bull. He’s the steamroller in the competition, attempting to roll over the issues with aggrieved bombast. Yes, just what we need in the federal government today: more bombast.

Rand Paul often says things that seem to make a lot of sense. Then he veers into the ditch saying stuff that makes no sense at all. He didn’t say much of anything to stand out from the crowd during the debate.

Marco Rubio, came across as the most capable and presidential of the participants. Not, you understand, that I would support him. No, I’m still a card-carrying, ACLU and Planned Parenthood supporting, unreconstructed liberal, and proud of it. But Rubio, in fact, behaved well, was articulate, and didn’t come across as a nut case.

Mostly, the nomination seekers all laid out grandiose plans that ignore the fact that the Presidency isn’t a monarchy. If you believe that any of them can singlehandedly make the changes they’re proposing without a peep from Congress – even a Republican Congress – I’d like a few of whatever pills you’re swallowing. My advice: don’t dive into the rabbit hole with any of these guys.

Some Thoughts on Returning from Cuba

It’s been several weeks since I’ve blogged. Most of that time my wife and I were on a People-to-People cultural exchange visit in Cuba, a place not many Americans have been privileged to visit over the past fifty-plus years. Perhaps like most Americans, my view of Cuba was pretty black and white: a communist country under the iron thumb of Fidel Castro until more recently, when his somewhat more enlightened brother, Raul, took over the reins. And, like most Americans, I was wrong.

Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 as the result of the Cuban Revolution tthat ousted Fulgencio Batista, a corrupt dictator supported by the U.S. At that time, Castro was a young man, politically inexperienced and highly averse to dealing with a country that had thrown its support to Batista. Enter the Soviet Union. If Castro wasn’t a committed communist, the deep need for economic support offered by the Soviet Union clearly made an association a marriage of convenience as well as a contrast to the prior U.S. supported corruption, aided and abetted by the extensive Mafia presence in the country.

Moving ahead (and well past the Cuban missile crisis) to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Castro’s Cuba suddenly faced economic disaster. With no support from the defunct Soviets, the country entered disastrous economic times. The U.S. failed to make a case for assistance acceptable to Castro, and so the economic hard times have largely persisted to present day. Well, except for some two billion dollars that annually enters the otherwise failed economy from Cuban Americans who in addition bring in a variety of consumer goods, from other countries (including England, Spain, and Israel) who provide tourists, and from a gray and black market that just about every Cuban knows how to access to advantage.

Fidel has done some good things over the years. The population is well educated and has guaranteed health care for all (U.S., take note). Of course, by educating the public, and through information that is only now beginning to penetrate into the population via the internet, the country is beginning to emerge from its dark years of relative isolation. Fidel’s advancing age and poor health have resulted in ascension to power of his more liberal-minded brother, Raul, and Cuban society is now beginning to open up. People feel free to express their opinions, to associate with an increasing number of American visitors, and to sit at hotspots in public parks with their cell phones, surfing the net.

We wanted to visit Cuba before Starbucks contaminated the country with an outlet on every corner, and our visit enabled us to do just that. We found the people to be open and friendly, the scenery to be wonderful, and our visits to all sites free of the watchful authorities we thought we might see. Cuba is not black and white; it’s a many shaded place that’s negotiating its place into the global economy. We look forward to seeing those changes, even knowing that some of what makes Cuba unique is likely to vanish. Progress, and the people, are demanding it, and it’s time for the U.S. to recognize the need to engage with this hemispheric neighbor only 90 miles from Key West.

Mike Huckabee is an Idiot

MIKE HUCKABEE IS AN IDIOT

Mike Huckabee is an idiot. As the most vocal, active supporter of Kim Davis, the County Clerk in Kentucky who was jailed for a time for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gays, he (as well as Ted Cruz and several other prominent Republicans) has demonstrated at least four major dysfunctional behaviors: hypocrisy, action from ignorance, bigotry, and creation of false equivalency. Allow me to elaborate.

Hypocrisy: Republicans believe in the strict rule of law as well as individual autonomy. Unless, it seems, someone wants to act in a manner incurring their disapproval. Thus, any act to stop the unwanted behavior is justified. In this case, Huckabee et al. throw out the rule of law in support of an elected clerk who, in accepting her position, agreed to uphold the law and now says she won’t. That’s hypocrisy.

Bigotry: Huckabee’s and his cohorts’ basis for supporting Davis is rooted in fundamental Christianity, In other words, their religiously based antipathy toward homosexuality is being used as the justification for supporting Davis’ flouting of the law. Worse, the self-righteous Huckabee says that one only needs to obey a law “if it’s right”. Apparently, he can justify anything if, in his opinion, it’s not “right”. In the present circumstance, that’s bigotry, exercised discrimination against homosexuals through illegal action.

Action from ignorance: Conservative Republicans always like to stress their adherence to the Constitution. The problem is that they neither understand the Constitution nor the history that has flowed from it down from the time of its adoption. Thus, they seem completely unaware of the Constitution’s position with respect to religion, and the consequent long history of separation of church and state that has been so critical in fostering American cultural openness from the very earliest days of the country. That’s ignorance in action.

Creation of false equivalency: Huckabee seems to think that there’s no difference between Davis’ situation and that of, as one example he has given, a pastor in church. He’s apparently too stupid to understand that there is a big difference between what is required of a public servant (performance in accordance with the law) and the position a pastor may take in his own church. There is no equivalency here. Mike, that’s separation of church and state. Duh.

Hypocrisy, bigotry, action from ignorance, and creation of false equivalency: bulwark thinking of the modern Republican party as it pushes ever harder to create a Christian theocracy little different in character from the Taliban. And given these extreme positions that are not being repudiated by most Republican politicians, it may even be worse than the Taliban. Does ISIS ring a bell? It should. White supremacists are having a field day with the current crop of GOP idiots and, chief among them, Huckabee. If that doesn’t frighten you into placing your support elsewhere, perhaps nothing will.

Scapegoat Politics

This is how it started in Germany, only now it’s here, among us. The politics of hate and scapegoating, brought out from under its slimy rock in the Republican Party by Donald Trump and made all the more evident by his fellow nomination seekers following his lead to the right. Yes, Latinos have become the new Jews. Oh, and according to Jeb Bush, so have Asians.

At the risk of getting our hands filthy by prying the rock clear of its underlying muck, let’s take a closer look at what’s going on.

In this blog, I’ve previously pointed out that Republican political ideology requires the maintenance of class structure and, specifically, the ongoing presence of a lower socioeconomic class. There is a systematic failure to acknowledge society’s responsibility for elevating that class, which is viewed by the increasingly, radically right wing Republican party as somehow both morally and biologically inferior to the white, right, old guard and otherwise economically privileged. This blaming of the victims of economic, racial and ethnic discrimination coupled with unmitigated greed in the pursuit of self-interest has kept inner cities ghettoized, minority area schools inferior, and decent employment with upward mobility an incongruous reality in a country that hypocritically espouses equality of opportunity for all. (I’d include women in those being discriminated against, but that’s a subject for another whole article.)

The Republican right, aside from being nearly all white – where the hell did Clarence Thomas come from? — is also overwhelmingly Christian. Not in the “do unto your neighbor” kind of Christianity they pray for on Sunday, but in the day to day kind of Christianity that thinks there’s a “war on Christmas” (there isn’t), that the country was founded as a Christian nation (it most certainly was not), and that there should be no such thing as separation of church and state (the negation of a fundamental principle of our nation).

Taken all together, the Republican philosophy has unsurprisingly led to a paranoid set of beliefs characterized by increasingly mean spirited xenophobia with an overlay of anger over the fact that the country is changing before their eyes in ways they are powerless to prevent.

Beware the actions of ignorant, angry, paranoid people in large groups, because they will be easily goaded into destructive actions by the demagogues that will inevitably emerge. And so, enter Donald Trump, part schoolyard bully, part bigot, and catalyst for the irrational scapegoating of Latinos, Asians and anyone else they suspect of subverting “the American way of life”. And don’t confuse him or his followers with the facts. Illegal immigration numbers are down, and no white citizens really want to take all those jobs picking fields and paying three bucks for a cucumber.

The bad news for the misguided right wing is that from very near its origin America has been a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-racial society, and the increasing proportion of non-white and ethnically diverse people is simply the manifestation of that fact in the twenty-first century. The country is changing because it is always changing, and in general we have been a better people because of that fact and not in spite of it.

The danger we face today is that our failed educational system, our factionalizing churches, synagogues, temples and mosques, and our enforced and entrenched class system all threaten to transform the country into a nation more closely resembling a Middle East war zone than the bastion of freedom and justice that we claim as our (albeit imperfect) heritage. We cannot allow the demagogues to steer the sheep, most of whom have deeply rooted views that we cannot hope to change. What we can do is encourage those of greater intelligence, perspective, and realistic views to stand up to the demagogues and inspire vigorous enough electoral expression to prevent America from becoming a right wing theocracy. Donald Trump and those who would follow his lead, including his cowardly fellow nomination seekers, need to be marginalized, branded for what they are: ignorant bigots. The country deserves better than these cockroaches, and if we don’t shine a light to scatter them, the blame will fall solidly on us.

Don’t let it happen. Please.

Post-Op Pain, Creativity, and Productivity

Seven weeks ago I underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I’d always heard that the pain following repair and the ensuing recovery period with physical therapy were difficult to bear, but even though I am a (retired) physician, I had no idea how much pain I’d actually experience and how completely wearing it could be. The baseline pain is a 24 hour burden, exacerbated by movement, lack of movement (yes), torturous physical therapy, and the exercises that must be done two to three times a day. The prognosis: 80% recovery in three to four months and whatever residual recovery I’ll see by six months.

Now, you might think I’m complaining about all this, but you’d be wrong. I was warned, I underwent the repair because it needed to be done, and I’ll get through the next several months whatever it takes. Not to do so would be to live with restricted mobility in my arm for the rest of my life, and that is flatly unacceptable. No, then, no pity. That’s not the purpose of this week’s missive. No, the real purpose is to discuss the effect all this has had, and is having, on creativity, productivity, and, specifically, my work on the loosely related sequel to Zendoscopy.

It’s not surprising how physical pain can sap the urge to express oneself creatively, especially when the accompanying physical limitation precludes doing much writing by longhand or typing. For weeks following surgery, I had to type by left-handed hunt and peck, and it’s only recently that I’m back to some limited two handed touch typing. Even that is limited, though, as my right arm will only tolerate so much before needing a rest. This paragraph, for example, is being written 24 hours after the preceding ones.

Last week, I got permission to restart playing the guitar, and I expect to get back to more extended writing soon. In the meantime, I’ll try to be terse and pithy in my blog entries. In that spirit, I offer the following:

  • I’m going to miss Jon Stewart.
  • Donald Trump is the poster child for what’s wrong with the Republican Party, even as the Party would like to get rid of him for revealing its true colors.
  • We must be well into summer. Look at all those criminally stupid people leaving their kids and pets locked up in broiling cars.
  • While climate change continues to manifest itself in terrifying ways, the deniers continue to do nothing about it.
  • Guns, guns, guns. While the mayhem continues, Rick Perry voices the imbecilic opinion that one partial solution would be to allow patrons to take guns into movie theatres.
  • As fuel prices are starting to come down, gas guzzler purchases will surely rise.
  • Republicans, in their opposition to all things Obama, would rather see Iran get a nuclear weapon in two months than approve an agreement that would prevent it for at least ten years.
  • Oh, and did I make the point strongly enough that I’m going to miss Jon Stewart?

Verbal Vomit, Hypocrisy, and (What Else?) Politics as Usual

Politics has always been a nasty business. Here are few examples from history:

“… a hypocrite in public life, the world will be puzzled to decide whether you are an apostate or an impostor, whether you have abandoned good principles, or whether you ever had any?” Thomas Paine’s insult to George Washington.

Filthy Story-Teller, Despot, Liar, Thief, Braggart, Buffoon, Usurper, Monster, Ignoramus Abe, Old Scoundrel, Perjurer, Robber, Swindler, Tyrant, Field-Butcher, Land-Pirate.” Harper’s Weekly editorializing about Abraham Lincoln.

“He has a bungalow mind.” Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), 28th American president opining on Warren Harding (1865-1923), 29th American president.

    And so it has been, and so it is and may always be. Those who long for the good old days are simply ignorant of what they were really like. And that’s not to mention the lack of indoor plumbing.   Well, the point of all this is that now, mired in the spectacle of Republican scrambling for the party’s Presidential nomination, we’re starting to see vitriol and hypocrisy once again entering high gear. The most obvious manifestation of this has been the oral dribblings from Donald Trump’s stunted brain.

By now, you’d have to have been somewhere off-planet not to have heard Trump’s comments about John McCain. Of course, Trump was right, sort of. McCain is not a war hero because he was captured and became a prisoner of war. But that is a straw man easily taken down by the fact that McCain truly is a war hero because of his conduct while in captivity. Trump’s failure to acknowledge this is despicable enough, but even more despicable is the hypocrisy oozing from the pores of the other Republican hopefuls.

All but Ted Cruz seem to have jumped on the bandwagon to defend McCain’s honor, as well everyone should, regardless of whether they agree with McCain’s politics. (I don’t, but I respect the man.) But this outpouring, no matter how justified, reveals the abjectly pathetic level of these guys’ hypocrisy. How, you ask? Simple. Where were they when John Kerry suffered the same defamation during his campaign for the Presidency? Yes, remember how he was “swiftboated” during his campaign for the Presidency? So, it was hunky-dory to lie about Kerry, but unacceptable to put down McCain. It reeks.

And then there’s Ted Cruz, demonstrating not hypocrisy but, in fact, his own rotted soul, siding with Trump.

Yes, politics is a dirty business, and what makes it worse is that there are so many bigoted sheep with deficient education in this country willing to listen to and believe the verbal vomit coming from these guys. Why else is Trump leading in GOP polling? Why do people still think President Obama’s birth certificate was forged? That he’s actually a Muslim? That the United States was founded as a Christian theocracy? That the second amendment guarantees every private citizen the right to bear arms individually instead of as intended, namely, as part of a “well regulated militia”?

I am frightened by the level of ignorance, bigotry, and religious superstition having an impact within our government. Add to these factors the simple fact that we now have what is essentially a corporate bought and owned Congress, and things could hardly be on a worse track. The only answer is for rational, objective, empathic humanists to vote the rascals out. But it had better be soon, because right now it looks like we’re headed for big trouble.

Judy Collins Who?

Judy Collins Who?

Five weeks ago I underwent repair of a torn rotator cuff. The pain has been awful, but that’s not what this is about. No, not at all. This about the recognition that one’s repository of knowledge is rapidly becoming irrelevant to the advancing world.

Yes, I will explain.

Several years ago. I suddenly noticed that young female coworkers who formerly would never have paid any attention to me were stopping by my office with increasing frequency to spill personal details, including such matters as their sex lives, and to seek my advice, say, as to whether they should undergo breast enhancement (OK, I’m an MD). Sometimes they even flirted a bit. I was puzzled but flattered. Until, that is, I came to realize that the reason this was happening is because they had come to perceive me as harmless. Yes, I was entering that phase of life, and the realization came as a brutal shock, let me tell you.

This morning, I was listening to a discussion on NPR about the Watts riots, which occurred here in Los Angeles fifty years ago. The discussion suddenly came to a halt for a moment when one of the journalists remarked that neither he nor the other fellow had been alive at the time.

During a recent conversation, with a young fellow about guns in America, he casually mentioned how Jack Ruby had assassinated Robert F. Kennedy. I will not detail the history lesson I subsequently delivered to this misinformed twenty-something.

Well, anyway, in the aftermath of my rotator cuff surgery, I’ve been getting physical therapy. During one of my two formal torture sessions this week, I was hauling my pathetic arm to as vertical a position as I could manage with a pulley setup when Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, began playing on the facility’s music system. Without giving much thought to it, I blurted to the young PT tech watching me sweat, “That’s Suite: Judy Blue Eyes. Stephen Stills wrote that for his girlfriend, Judy Collins.”

And the tech replied, “Who’s Judy Collins?”

Yes, I’m sure every generation faces the inevitable reality of of eventual cultural irrelevance. As a leading edge baby boomer, I guess it’s my generation’s turn now. I can’t help wonder, though, about all that’s been lost from generations before mine, and all that will be lost from current and future generations.

I didn’t tell the nice young PT tech about Judy Collins or her wonderful music and how much it evokes in me. After all, someday he’ll probably get the same reaction from some youngster when he mentions Katy Perry. So in the end, all that I could think to say to him was, “Your time will come.”

My First Best Friend

My first best friend was Doug. Well, okay, he might not have been my first best friend, but he’s the first one I can remember. And I might not have been his best friend, but it doesn’t really matter. Here’s the story, and why I think about it now.

In the early 1950s, when I was 7 years old, we moved from New York to California, settling in the northwest San Fernando Valley. We arrived just in time for the school year and my entry into the second grade. Almost immediately, I met Doug, a kid open to friendship with the newcomer. Doug was the shortest kid in the class but athletic and smart. I liked him immediately and I became one of his several close friends, who readily accepted me into their little clique.

Despite Doug’s wiry athleticism, he could be painfully slow of execution. At lunchtime, he would carefully remove his dental retainer, set it aside, and then eat his lunch painfully slowly and carefully. Long after the rest of us had inhaled our PB&Js, Doug would be chewing his sandwich, grapes, chips – whatever, so meticulously as to make the rest of us crazy, but we’d forgive him for using up so much of our lunch period because he was the kind of kid that you instinctively liked and, more importantly, was the kind of kid you wanted to like you.

I always wanted to be invited over to Doug’s house, mostly because he had an elaborate tree house in his backyard, the most outstanding characteristic of which was the “pee-pipe”, which was just what it sounds like it was, although I think it was later used as a hiding place for rolled up nudie magazines, issues of sanitation not withstanding. I only was invited into the tree house a couple of times, and I knew that his other friends spent considerably more time in it. This was my first indication that, although Doug and I were friends, I was not necessarily his best friend. It stung a bit, but I hung in.

When we were 12, we both became ham radio operators and were able to talk with one another using Morse code over the radio. This was far more exciting than using the telephone and, besides, aside from my father being a doctor and needing ready access to the phone, in those days we had a party line which I couldn’t monopolize.

By the time we got to junior high school, our social group had expanded, but Doug and I were the only ones in the group who had decided we would be engineers. This dedication to the physical sciences held through high school. Despite our common interests, the day we graduated to go off to college was the last time I saw Doug, and I have no idea whether he actually did become an engineer. I didn’t. I became pre-med after a time and ultimately went to medical school.

It’s been over fifty years since losing touch with Doug. I’ve always hoped he’d turn up at one of our high school reunions, but he never has, and no one seems to know what’s become of him. I’ve searched the internet and all the common social media sites with no success – it’s as if he’s vanished from the face of the earth.

As I get older, I’ve come to realize that there’s no particular value in living in one’s past, but remembering it and periodically reaching out to touch it helps to create perspective on the journey we’re all taking. Life, as we all know, is short, and having some sense of the composite whole of our brief existence is very comforting. It’s why, although I was miserable in high school (another story for another time), I always attend my class reunions. It’s wonderful to see old acquaintances and share the stories of our lives. This is especially so now for those of us who are leading edge baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s. We are the triumphant survivors of the ancient curse of living in interesting times.

So, Doug, if you’re still out there, and on the miniscule chance that you’ll stumble across this article, please, please reach back to me. I’d love to hear from you.

Your (not necessarily best) friend,

JW

Gimme That Ol’ Time Porn – er – I mean, Religion

We live in Southern California, where most things don’t stick out because there are so many of them. It simply ain’t so everywhere, and as a case in point, I offer the apparent link between pornography and religion in the southern part of our country.

Some years ago and on trips taken since, I’ve noticed that in driving through areas of the South, the Ozarks for example, one passes two distinct institutions along the roadside: “adult” business establishments and churches. The former aren’t hidden as any sort of shameful thing. They’re right there, with easy highway return. The churches are many in number, and even more prominent are the billboards exhorting us to get to know and accept Jesus, that Jesus will “save” us, and so on.

The prominence and proximity of these things is truly remarkable. But I’m not writing this to make a moral judgment about what people choose to indulge in, whether sacred or profane. I’m here to say that there’s a reason why the relationship between the two exists.

Everyone knows or admits (except maybe a few Republicans running for office) that we all come into this world starkers, and only after that do we get saddled with clothes. Beyond the age of, say, three, however, it seems as if most folks think that there’s something wrong with the unclothed human body and, more to the point, being seen naked. And when it comes to the subject of sexual behavior, few want to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable, or because they’ve been told it’s wrong. Among those who are ill at ease talking about sex, those most uncomfortable are the fundamentally religious. Why? Because they’re taught that sex is something a) not to be discussed in public, b) that it’s somehow dirty, and c) that it should only be addressed in the act, silently and for procreative purposes. Of course, homosexuality and masturbation are taught to be sins.

The problem with this is that you can’t fool biology. Nor can you evade marketing. Sexual drives will out, and marketers will take advantage of them. Thus, the adult emporia along southern highways with nearby churches and all those billboards to try and save folks from what comes naturally. Those churches urge you to believe in fairytales about a robed guy who rose from the dead and his vindictive dad who, as one learns from the Bible, was one mean son of a bitch.

The truth is that the relationship between pornography and religion is not unique. It’s just that it’s harder to see it in places like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and other big cities. In the less populated South, where religion is strong and the concomitant repression demands its outlet, it’s just easier to see the phenomenon manifested.

Perhaps humankind will eventually outgrow religion and its repressive, often aggressive and theocratic teachings, but I doubt that will happen soon. So, in the meantime, I guess we just get to enjoy the idiocy of Church on Sunday morning and a visit to the pornatorium in the afternoon. Now, if someone will only explain all those fireworks emporia to me.

Too Smart by a Half

We live in an age of advanced technology. Well, maybe not as advanced as we’d like to think, but pretty advanced, anyway. Unfortunately, sometimes that same technology doesn’t work so well, and when it doesn’t, it may be terribly frustrating. It’s even worse when it tries to be smarter than we are — too smart by a half, say.

This evening, I tried to log in to get my e-mail. I had no problems with e-mail earlier in the day. So, when I booted into my e-mail client, I got a message from my ISP saying that it wanted me to confirm my e-mail address. I did so online, and then it asked me to reset my security question. I did that and clicked on “SUBMIT”. The damn screen reverted to the start page again, asking for me to confirm my e-mail address. Things only got worse from there. After looping through this several times, I got a message saying I’d be receiving an e-mail asking me to confirm the changes. I’d then have 48 hours to do the confirmation. Only one problem: my e-mail was no longer functioning.

In frustration, the wife and I went out to dinner.

Upon our return, I re-booted my computer and, hurrah! E-mail was back up and there was the message asking me to confirm my e-mail address. All I had to do was click “CONFIRM”. I clicked and…nothing. Multiple tries, rebooting, and swearing were all to no avail. So, now, I’m concerned that if I can’t confirm my e-mail address, they’ll cut off my service, thinking I’ve vanished. Oh, and clicking on the “if you have questions, click here to connect” button” led to the same dead end as the “CONFIRM” button.

I waited another fifteen minutes and tried again. Now, after a somewhat long wait, it connected, confirming a my “change” of e-mail address or, in fact, simply confirming the e-mail address I didn’t change. I only changed my security question, remember?

Well, if I encounter any more difficulty, the next step is going to be to try and call the ISP on the telephone, and that ought to be great fun. What time is it, anyway, in Bangladesh?