Cold Because Warm, plus Pathetic Denialism

I just read online that after forty hours below zero (Fahrenheit), temperatures in my region have at last risen to positive integers. Whoopee!

This event has only marginal significance, even for me. Weʼre supposed to exceed the freezing point finally on Saturday. That will mean something, as we may at last begin to melt some snow.

What stimulates me after some months to write on the blog again is a pathetic citation I noticed in my Facebook feed just now. You see, yesterday Scientific American instructed me via Twitter about the “polar vortex” that reporters in various media have been misconstruing. Supported by an interesting YouTube video, it reveals how climate change (“global warming”) has, by heating the arctic, caused us to suffer extreme “arctic” cold. No big deal, sure. Some basic climate science, really (just stuff I hadnʼt known before). But I posted the links on Facebook and tweeted the same. Another few seconds online, really. However, an old friend, of apparently dextreme opinion, felt it necessary to post a pathetic bit of deceptive rhetoric from the climate-science deniers at The Center for Research on Globalization (funded by whoever knows what excrement-load of Kochoildollars to deny deny deny at all costs whatsoever).

You should click on the link above to read the jumble of words presented as an argument now.

As poor argumentation, the page is worth deconstructing…

source — NASA

source — NASA

Faked “fact” 1 — Climate has always changed, and it always will. The assumption that prior to the industrial revolution the Earth had a “stable” climate is simply wrong. The only sensible thing to do about climate change is to prepare for it. Nonsense: no one, except delusional straw men, has ever claimed the climate never changed. What climate change science has shown is a stark rise in global temperature since the industrial revolution due to dramatically increased greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. exhaust from burring fossil fuels). I guess if you are a Koch stooge, unwilling ever to modify our energy sources, you may believe all one can do about what we have done to global climate is “prepare,” but thatʼs false, too. Deception technique = Straw man.

Faked “fact” 2 — Accurate temperature measurements made from weather balloons and satellites since the late 1950s show no atmospheric warming since 1958. In contrast, averaged ground-based thermometers record a warming of about 0.40 C over the same time period. Many scientists believe that the thermometer record is biased by the Urban Heat Island effect and other artefacts. Apples and oranges. But he is also merely reproducing a pseudofact about the weather-balloon data that I cannot find anywhere except from climate change deniers (and none of them present any source for the assertion, merely repeating in lockstep the same hot air). Is it merely a lie? I suspect so, and our “authority” proffers no evidence for us to think otherwise. His “many scientists” is just the old FoxNews “many believe” lie: who are these many? Nematodes? His “many other artefacts” is simply words without meaning — if there are “many artefacts,” name them. He doesnʼt; ergo, they donʼt exist.

Faked “fact” 3 — Despite the expenditure of more than US$50 billion dollars looking for it since 1990, no unambiguous anthropogenic (human) signal has been identified in the global temperature pattern. Invent your own terms (and moving goalposts). The denierʼs invented unfound”signal” goes undefined (and therefore unfindable, eh?) whereas science established decades ago a clear connection/parallel between human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and climate disorientation. The cost of research is irrelevant to the argument, no matter what (as it will be again later), even if his unsupported number is accurate, which we cannot tell because he offers absolutely no support to his statements ever, anywhere in the article, relying instead on the fallacy of authority (calling himself such).

Faked “fact” 4 — Without the greenhouse effect, the average surface temperature on Earth would be -180 C rather than the equable +150 C that has nurtured the development of life. Just another straw man — no one wishes there were no greenhouse effect ever on earth. The problem is how we have spiked its effects over the past 250 years (and morons who close their blind eyes and shout “No, no, no; I don’t want to hear” instead of working sensibly to do something about our greenhouse gas emissions, I suppose).

Faked “fact” 5 — On both annual (1 year) and geological (up to 100,000 year) time scales, changes in atmospheric temperature PRECEDE changes in CO2. Carbon dioxide therefore cannot be the primary forcing agent for temperature increase (though increasing CO2 does cause a diminishingly mild positive temperature feedback). Now I am getting bored, so letʼs just point out that there is no evidence presented for this assertion sequence — none whatsoever. And no one accepts what he says (well, 97% of scientists disagree).

Faked “fact” 6 — The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has acted as the main scaremonger for the global warming lobby that led to the Kyoto Protocol. Fatally, the IPCC is a political, not scientific, body. Hendrik Tennekes, a retired Director of Research at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, says that “the IPCC review process is fatally flawed” and that “the IPCC wilfully ignores the paradigm shift created by the foremost meteorologist of the twentieth century, Edward Lorenz“. Cherry-picking evidence: one climate denier has a single friend who may or may not agree with him (notice we have no link to the source of these clearly partial quotations, so we have no way of knowing what the old Dutch guy actually said in toto). So what? And that “main” before “scaremonger” (nothing but name calling there) is a weasel word — the real meaning is that there are plenty more sources promoting Kyoto or there could be no “main.” Of course, the UN panel isnʼt itself a scientific body (the UN is a political body); their political work, arranging treaties and protocols, relies on the science our denier ducks (the “scaremongers” this guy fears to address and so ignores).

Faked “fact” 7 — Having introduced his single variable, our densewit denier continues to run with it (and with further unsupported nonevidence). The Kyoto Protocol is easily attacked, being a result of compromise and therefore by definition imperfect in itself alone… The Kyoto Protocol will cost many trillions of dollars and exercises a significant impost those countries that signed it, but will deliver no significant cooling (less than .020 C by 2050, assuming that all commitments are met). The Russian Academy of Sciences says that Kyoto has no scientific basis; Andre Illarianov, senior advisor to Russian president Putin, calls Kyoto-ism “one of the most agressive, intrusive, destructive ideologies since the collapse of communism and fascism“. If Kyoto was a “first step” then it was in the same wrong direction as the later “Bali roadmap”. Once again, a single voice (who may or may not even be scientific himself) expressing merely an opinion — cherry picking and substituting opinions for facts. Likewise the false flag of the cost of Kyoto, quickly substituting that ball for the real payment issue — our hothouse future.

Faked “fact” 8 — Climate change is a non-linear (chaotic) process, some parts of which are only dimly or not at all understood. No deterministic computer model will ever be able to make an accurate prediction of climate 100 years into the future. The argument avoids acknowleging the utility of statistical projections (such as those meteorologists made to warn us of the current cold snap, duh). And crystal-ball-gazing (our denierʼs flatfooted prediction of future events) is as illogical as it comes, boys and girls. I bet heʼd have claimed weather people would never predict weather patterns with any accuracy whatsoever if heʼd been writing in the 1930s. Straightforwardly, Mr. Denier doesnʼt know the future and doesnʼt even have the guidance of computer models (unlike climate science, which does have models doing just what he says they donʼt).

Faked “fact” 9 — Not surprisingly, therefore, experts in computer modelling agree also that no current (or likely near-future) climate model is able to make accurate predictions of regional climate change. This is actually just number 8 repeated, sadly, and the “experts” go unidentified and therefore unreal. The lie is substituting regional climate for the actual topic; heʼs a wonderful three-card monte sleaze artist.

Faked “fact” 10 — The biggest untruth about human global warming is the assertion that nearly all scientists agree that it is occurring, and at a dangerous rate. Actually that statement is simply false. Nearly all scientists do so agree (just less than a hundred percent).

And now having faced down his weakest (but weirdly last) pseudo-facts, my boredom limit is achieved. The guy had nothing there, just subintellectual legerdemain, and clumsy sleight-of-hand at that. Our denier also later presents some”myths,” too, and I will address those if anyone insists or is interested (almost all are simply more straw men he erects himself to wobble with his own hot air).

Oh, yeah, I am mad (at such stupid deception and those who apparently fall for it), so thus my stylistic choices above — none of which invalidate my points but merely express my limitations as a human.

http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/climatescience/greenhousegases/industrialrevolution.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=global+climate+change+since+industrial+revolution&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/monster-greenhouse-gas-levels-seen/

http://climate.nasa.gov/causes

http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-scientific-consensus.htm

http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus

©2014 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

D J T

I tried to prevent myself from even writing — let alone posting — this trivial, overly subjective whinge. However, after I spent too many half-conscious hours last night running variations on the initials so central to this post through my mind, I had no real choice but to succumb and exorcise De-vile Jouncechops Turgidity. Really — even asleep, or half-asleep, or mostly asleep, I was devising various phrases, such as “Demonically Jaundiced Tushie,” to describe the (thinly) orange-thatched subhuman whose ranting and invidious presence on our planet has cornered me into writing today.

Last week (I think — perhaps it was earlier: I shall know better when I seek out the image I intend to use in illustration for this article, for this particular portion of this article, in fact*), a certain (to-be-unmentioned by name) financial scam artist** (Dumb Jerk Talking) made an outrageously offensive tweet against fellow New Yorker (actually a New Jersey native by birth) Jon Stewart — this tweet:

Dullard Jerkmember (Torture-us) Twit

Dullard Jerkmember (Torture-us) Twit

Initially, I read about, then ignored and then forgot about Drooling Jivemonkey Thickpate and his nonsense. Until yesterday evening, when awaiting the start of The Good Wife at 8:00 PM Our Local Time (Daylight Savings Variety), I accidentally endured the final few minutes of Dirtwuss Jackstaff Thatchskullʼs wearily lame “reality” hour of enhanced-interrogation maltreatment (failed-celebrity version thereof). And the subjection to Dolt Jute-chewing Tipplepratesʼs braying and painful pontifications, even for a few hundred seconds, left me on the uneasy and sickened side of sleep.

Thus this post and its Joycean exuberance in ringing the changes on Deafnoggin Jughead Turpitudeʼs initials.

And I have only just begun, but also run on too long about too little. However, I was having so much fun, I thought you (whatever faithful peruser has made it to this point) might like to participate on your own. Using the chart below, just select one from Column A, another from Column B and the last from Column C (I really should have called those columns D, J and T) and create your own burlesque caricatures to lampoon Driparse Japehoax Tincturation (not really necessary, as It, sleazy merchant of valueless twaddle, does such a woefully awesome job of making Itself ridiculous).

Doofus Jackdaw Thirdrate WordsChart

And you could  consult a dictionary or thesaurus yourself for even more variations to play. Obviously, I didnʼt even make it through the alphabet on various traducements to use, so feel free to add (or invent — the addition of… “-head” or “-breath” or “-ass” or any gross physicality may transform even the most mundane and titmousian expression into a truly splendiferous and gargantuan aspersion absolutely appropriate to the abomination that is Demi-apt Jumbomalicious Troglodyte).

* Turns out it was only “four days ago,” according to Google Images search.

** Also here and here and here and (I think we all get the picture… long before now, too.)

*** Heck, Dullard J. Twatfumble probably went no further than a quick look at Stewartʼs Wikipedia entry for the naming thing asininely featured in the tweet (or, to be accurate, forced an intern or other employee to do the job for His — Dirty Jobs Trashmeister — Ineptitude-Personified Haughtiness).

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

A Really Good Book

So. I missed “yesterday,” as stated in my previous post. And I missed yesterday, as in relation to this post (I hope) as well — meaning that I also missed posting on Pi Day (preferably known as Einsteinʼs Birthday), as well. In both cases we must blame the computer (and somewhat my own sloth — but mostly the computer: bless you Apple with all sanctimonious and cynical sarcasm). Even today, with a new update for Mountain Lion, I have spent most of the day with the iMac frozen and (seemingly) forever restarting (fortunately, The Lovely One asked me to clean the house in preparation for some guests, who called last night to indicate illness all week was undoubtedly going to prevent their visit; so I could at least go away from the detestable device and do something worthwhile today — as yesterday I determined to not just sit and fume at spinning gear images and what not but read instead).*

Clearly I should keep this brief before the computer interferes with working successfully yet again.

KindlleHere it is: I love my Kindle (not so fond of the Kindle app for Mac, however, as it now takes a full five minutes to start and run, when not in “safe” mode when it loads perfectly fine and fast, and also apparently caused the most recent system freeze and forced hard restarts). It is really cool to be able to carry a full library around with me in one little, thin device. And I do mean a full library. Although the Kindle Reader only counts 437 books downloaded and included, a huge number of those are the cheap and usable “complete” collection available from various packagers of royalty-free material, meaning that about 50 of the “books” include from twenty to fifty books each!

However, the best thing about the amazon.com device is that I really get into reading things on it — new, old, reread for the umpteenth time and utterly fresh. I have always been a lover of the actual, old-fashioned book — the scent, the feel, the comfort of real pages in a real binding (paper or otherwise). But on the Kindle, reading works just as well, and I get perhaps even more lost in the stories. In my contemporary state of increasing joint pains (sometimes desperately excruciating), holding the Kindle beats trying to keep a hardbacked book open in my lap (not to mention the utter delight for My Beloved to be able to make the font just as large as necessary for her post-surgical eyeballs to perceive readily).

wolf-hallAnd one of the best things that I actually read (new and complete) thanks to the electronic reading machine has been Hilary Mantelʼs Wolf Hall, a brilliant book that thoroughly captured me and kept me up late, late (intolerably so when it came to arising sometimes less than four hours later to get out and work out), unwilling to pause at any story break and go to sleep.

I had first encountered her text in portions published in various literary magazines before the book was actually published (at least here in the U.S.) — in the TLS for certain and I also think in the New York Review of Books and possibly The London Review of Books** as well. Although I read the material each time (and also the subsequent glowing reviews), I wasnʼt entirely whelmed at the third-person present-tense imprisonment in the protagonistʼs perspective.

I did eventually buy the hardback at a Borders going-out-of-business 80%-off price a couple of years ago, but I never got further than the first fifty pages. Maybe, for an old man weened on the hagiography of A Man for All Seasons, it was too hard to imagine a Thomas Cromwell not utterly wicked and venal (although one can clearly perceive his hardening character in Mantelʼs telling, once I did read the book).

In October or November (I donʼt now remember just when I bought the e-book version), with the next volume in the trilogy, Bring Up the Bodies, well reviewed and winning Mantel her second-in-a-row Man Booker Prize, I sprang the nine bucks for a Kindle version. And have been devouring it since (spaced judiciously for other reads, particularly various research items for Sepharad and other books I whimsically have afforded to create the massive library that fits into my pocket).

Wolf Hall. Wonderful stuff. Incredibly well written and easy to read voraciously.

Now I am postponing the start of Bring Up the Bodies (also on the Kindle for some time now) in order to enjoy other things — The Moonstone for the fifth time and for  second time Anthony Burgessʼs Earthly Powers, which became available in January. And triter trifles, too (like Jack Vanceʼs Demon Princes series again and a pleasant discovery from a dead favorite — a mystery by Roger Zelazny, The Dead Manʼs Brother, already completed and archived). And more to come.

* And even now Spotlightʼs incessant cataloguing keeps taken over from my typing and leaving me with not a cursor but an Apple-effing spinning beachball.

** That periodical did publish the text of the speech the author gave recently about the royals which got her into trouble for (not really) disrespecting the expectant mother of the heir-to-become.

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Sunday : Fun Day

extraordinarily up-close and ineptly impersonal: Windows XP Media Center Edition identifying itself on Janetʼs laptop

Weʼre cleaning up Janetʼs laptop today.

We have several reasons. First, the cursed thing runs like lead, with any mouse click requiring several geological æons to stir a response from within the sluggish code-bowels of WindowsXP Media Center Edition and the torpid silicon synapses of her HP Pavilion dv8301nr; and The Lovely One has harped at me (for a few years now) to get rid of several programs that I installed when that machine was our only online access at home (QuicKeys and Now Up-to-Date and Contact seem particularly worthless to her, along with the eBay toolbar daemon). Second, our special Qwest MSN software became worthlessly out of date nearly a year ago when that MSN service died. Third, she has two virus-protection packages that seem to conflict with each other in the latest updates — one of those is not very recent at all (because I allowed one package to expire this past summer), so itʼs time the Webroot software disappeared. (Fourth, the Apple updater hasnʼt worked successfully on her computer for more than a year, meaning that her version of iTunes is way out of date. But then, someone stole her old iPod at the Y anyway, and she has never even gotten the new one I bought her for her birthday a year ago out of the box.)*

I am attempting about a half-dozen uninstalls right now, and itʼs only taken about two hours… And one of the Webroot programs wonʼt uninstall, apparently, until I “close all open aspects,” which is really stupid, as I canʼt find any open Webroot applications. Isnʼt that what an uninstaller is supposed to do? Quit the program you are attempting to uninstall and delete all the various parts of the program?***

Itʼs Windows… so who knows?

“Just keep trying, Wakdjunkaga. Just keep trying…”

My Belovedʼs HP laptop on her actual (not virtual) desktop

Anyway, personally I am hoping to have her machine working in a sleek and spiffy way it hasnʼt known since five years ago, so that Livescribe can do something funky to my smartpen to permit it to register itself (it works fine, itʼs just not officially registered**). However, “Toby” of Tier 3 Technical Support tells me via e-mail that if I hook up the pen on a Windows computer, the problem can be fixed (I guess the Echo smartpen isnʼt quite as multi-platform compatible as Livescribe would like to advertise).

Anyway, with a little luck (and a lot of time) maybe She-Who-Must… will be able to get herself online on her own again (and here at home not just at work).

With Valentineʼs Day just around the corner, metaphorically, weʼre spending such richly romantic time together…

* Fifth, I would like to clone her computer as the Windows partition to run via VMWare Fusion here on my iMac (which would greatly simplify the connect-the-smartpen-through-Windows-to-fix-the-registration-issue/problem for me).

** Wouldnʼt you think they could just register it by hand at the company? They have all my information…

*** That is how it works in Apple-reality here on my Mac.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Whatʼs going on?

Astonishing.

Amazing.

Thanks to Gwen Hernandezʼs helpful comment, I got my blog to actually shut down* yesterday** instead of merely identifying the open blog as blacked out.

Actual screen capture from 4:40 PM CST, Wednesday, 18 January 2012, searching for “blackout square,” returned this blog as result #1

And we still got well over 100 hits***. Blacked out. With no blog available. Astonishing. Amazing (in a strange and twisted kind of way).

Admittedly, when one googled “blackout square,” the name I had given my home-made blackout image from Tuesdayʼs post about yesterdayʼs blackout, the first item Google returned was my square (at least for me; I really donʼt know if being me makes Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog show up higher in the search results than for other folks****). Iʼm serious. Just look at the image to the right (and go on, click it to make it big, so you can actually see). That first black square on the search for “blackout square” is my image (the one I put my cursor under, marked “22 hours ago” when I searched yesterday afternoon and then took the screen capture).

Yeah, itʼs pretty (pointlessly) ego-boosting (“Vanity of vanities, sayeth the Preacher. All is vanity”) to be the top result on Google — even if it is just for a picture, and one I created by pouring black into a new GraphicConverter image and saving in somewhat under forty seconds, just so I had an image to use Tuesday (it also became my Facebook display pic yesterday, too*****). However, itʼs fairly confusing also to realize that searchers got nothing for clicking on that image (or any of the other searched links that led hereabouts) yesterday.

WordPress.com Stats on Wakdjunkagaʼs Blog about 4:40 PM yesterday — and people who cliked search links got the generic WordPress blackout page, no matter what

Of course, people searched plenty of other things (the usual suspects around here, according to WordPress Stats — check the stats capture to the left, the one that in the top graph reveals those 100+ hits at just 4:40 PM). But internet pic trollers didnʼt get anywhere with any of those searches yesterday. How do I know? Because I tried a couple of those terms myself, using Safari and Chrome (as I already had the WordPress post-composition page open here in Firefox, writing some of these words******). And when I clicked on the links, I got the standard this-blog-is-blacked-out-in-protest-of-SOPA/PIPA*******. It must have been kind of frustrating for those image-seeking internet users.

Of course, once I changed from the total blackout setting to the just-a-protest-banner setting, those anonymous image-thieving pirates could get what they wanted again (and they probably are doing so right now). Gosh, does that bit of online behavior indicate we really do need an internet piracy law? (No.)

(One last thing — at least before you get to the plethora of footnotes below — yesterday was one of the worst days since last summer for CenturyLink******** screwing with my internet linkage: at least a dozen interruptions, half of those, at least, within less than five minutes of each other — meaning no actual getting online at all for a big part of yesterday morning. Talk about your internet blackouts. — At least I got this little item written, illustrated, annotated, linked and repeatedly saved without interruption.)

* Thatʼs a split infinitive there: “to actually fail.” Traditional stylistics dictate that one should never split infitinitives. I do it all the time. For instance, in the case above (which I did think about; viz. this footnote), placing “actually” in the position it occupies seems (at least to me) to emphasize the reality of the shutting down.  — Agree? Disagree? Comment, then.

** (WordPress.com added both the current banner and a Wednesday, 18 January 2012 SOPA/PIPA blog-blackout item sometime after I wrote and posted Tuesdayʼs little essay)

*** The final count, observed just as I posted this shortly after 9:00 AM Thursday, 19 January 2012, was 136 pointless hits.

**** Your input is welcome. Do your results parallel mine? (We can communicate and run the same search about the same time, just to be most objectively accurate.)

***** I hope I remembered to change it before posting this today…

****** Thatʼs a Chrome window with the Google search result on “blackout square” above and to the right.

******* That standard this-blog-is-blacked-out-today is also what turned up when I tried to preview this post for proofreading, too! Not quite so amusing to me somehow.

******** Itʼs mighty interesting to google “CenturyLink sucks” and find all the nearly endless number of folks who have shared my frustration with this worthless big-corporate excuse for an Internet “Service” Provider.

My alternative title for todayʼs post was “SOPA/PIPA Blackout Fail.” I thought that bit of verbiage might be arresting and rivetingly seize attention. But after my testing discussed above, I know the blackout didnʼt fail. Folks just kept clicking here anyway (some of them over and over — I do really love those WordPress statistics).  

— And, yeah, I was having a good time footnoting again.

And, yes, I do have Sunday, October 23, 2012, our third day in Budapest, coming your way really, really soon. Just not today.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Joining the Hall of Shame

1/11/12 

Screen capture taken at 3:25 CST Thursday, 12 January 2012 — click to enlarge

Today we pay off our mortgage. $932.05. The escrow returns to us in about fifteen days, a deliberate delay by Wells Fargo that stinks of greed — sucking additional profit through interest from our 27-year loan servitude). Of which Wells Fargo only inherited the loan about five years ago, acquiring it, if I remember rightly, from Fifth Third (but they may have owned my truck loan).

The worst owner was the insurance-cum-banking scum in Des Moines to whom we were enslaved until the big hailstorm (2001?), Allied Insurance and Mortgage. You see, their insurance arm would not pay us directly for our damage, insisting the cash had to go to the mortgage holder (themselves — Allied) but only after we had made the approved repairs/improvements (kind of a classic Catch-22). The worst part was getting paid for two sides of the house, siding damage, but having to replace all four (so as not to reduce the value of the property). Tight-assed, greedy bloodsucking bastards. Pardon my honesty.

We have paid for our home (but with some “improvements” in the second mortgage we took out with our friendly, local bank, who then sold us on to larger, greedier incompetents) thrice over — probably not even counting “points,” “fees” and other financial thievery.

Wells Fargoʼs corporate greed blew its public relations, at least with me (and perhaps now with you, too, Gentle Readers), three times over since Friday. 

First, after more than half a decade of handling our payments nearly perfectly — no delays in check-cashing to force late fees, as I had suffered under other institutions — on our penultimate payment, they somehow ignored the amount for which I had made out the check and cashed it for the monthly payment only, without the additional thousand of additional principal. A mistake? The probability of driving up our final payment by a couple of bucks a day made the coincidence of this “error” seem overly convenient to me. So I called the company (with three motives in mind — to complain about their deliberate error and get it corrected; to verify the final payment procedure and, after the “error” correction to determine the appropriate timing of our payoff; and to investigate our acquisition of the funds in our [currently rather hefty] escrow account). 

Check the incomprehensible bookkeeping from yesterday

Their second PR goof occurred there — not once I got to human customer relations agents, but in their labyrinthine and totally annoying voicemail system. All corporations should realize in these web-presence internet times that no one calls a corporation to deal with a machine. No one. And these foolhardy corporate managers, who insist on erecting these voicemail barricades against providing service, are making their customer-contact workersʼ lives far worse than necessary by automatically outraging each caller with the completely unnecessary barrier and frustration of voicemail (not to mention the addition of time-wasting and annoying advertising with the endless voicemail menus). 

Obviously, four menus into my (wasted) time, when I finally could dial zero for a human, I was raging, and poor Keisha, who answered, had to accept the burden. Nor was I interested in her long waits online for me while she “brought up” my check, nor her subsequent apologies. I wanted the correct amount credited toward paying our loan on the correct, original day. She could not do it; Wells Fargo could add the thousand the day I called, a weekend after (three daysʼ of interest later) but not retroactively. I kept insisting their “mistake” was not my problem. I had paid the amount I wished already. She passed me up to a “supervisor,” Carmen Kearney, in, as it turned out, “another state.” 

Carmen and I went round and round (and round and…) as well, although she almost immediately was able to postdate (predate?) their additional draw, as per my original check, on my checking account. Carmen apologized profusely (and pointlessly), too. It really got ugly — okay, I got ugly as she stoically stonewalled — when I got to my second and third topics, paying off the mortgage (delayed, thereby forcing several daysʼ more interest, by Wells Fargoʼs little “error” with my monthly check-plus-additional-principal) and acquiring our escrow account. Nothing could be done about the payoff delay (me: “Why should your incompetence be my problem?”), nothing, but she was “facilitating” the fastest possible acquisition by Wells Fargo of my additional thousand. And Wells Fargoʼs standard policy is to retain all escrow accounts for fifteen days after receipt of final payment to ensure sufficient funds in the payerʼs account to cover the payoff — no exceptions. (Me: “Yeah, Sure. Lets you collect fifteen unearned daysʼ interest on my escrow account.” No response to my repeated assertions of fraud. Me: “So are you going to pay me the four percent daily interest I could have been earning on those escrow funds if you had transferred them to my account with actual efficiency?” No acknowledgment of that idea.) 

And third, Wells Fargoʼs insistence on me (in this circumstance) having to follow their penny-ante regulations blew any respect I might have for this bloated, incompetent, cheating and deceptive, dis-serving and abusive financial giant stomping clumsily and viciously on the lives of its victims. They had mismanaged my payment, but I had to serve and obey humbly their inflexible regulations, to my detriment after their rude error. “Third” means that they cheated me. Is it fraud? I say, “Yes.” After all, they supposedly erred. They owe me reparations, not their selfserving regulations-as-usual. 

Wells Fargo joins the ranks of corporate malfeasance with Qwest/CenturyLink, DirecTV, Fox News, Allied Mortgage/Insurance, and whatever customer-abusing companies I have already mentioned here on the blog for the Hall of Shame in business (mal)practice. 

I actually wrote this (as dated above) yesterday. Janet did overnight the check via UPS, which showed it arrived, signed for at 9:54 this morning, Thursday, 12 January 2012 (as I had verified would happen, per a Wells Fargo note on the website, 24 hours in advance with their “Quinn” yesterday about 8:40 AM).

So far, although I post late in the afternoon, nothing shows to change our account status to zero. Way to suck, Wells Fargo.

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Wow. A Post. “On Art and Beauty”

Although I have been pondering any number of short little (and several long and humongous) posts to start 2012 (at least since The Lovely One and I returned from a News Years break to Chicago), some of which you are likely to read soon, I have something a little diferent for today. It does, however, remind me of the kind of thing I was posting here two years ago.

I got an e-mail after Christmas that made me think. And since Janet enjoyed receiving her BCC of the answering e-mail I finally wrote today, I thought I would post my response to the stimulating e-mail for the blog.

The e-mail I received went to about two dozen (or more; I never actually counted) recipients from the lovely woman who gave me the chance to portray Picasso just over a year ago. She was going to speak to an art class at one of the Dubuque colleges and wanted some input from people she considered artists of various kinds (including me, perhaps the non-artist of the group). She had six questions (probably the ones she was supposed to discuss for the class):

·         Why did you become an artist (i.e., why do you do what you do)?

·         What characterizes someone as an artist, in your view (i.e., what specific characteristics does an artist possess)?

·         What is art, in your view (i.e., what makes something be a work of art)?

·         What is beauty, in your view (i.e., what makes something be beautiful)?

·         In your view, does a work of art have to be beautiful (i.e., is beauty an essential element/characteristic of a work of art)?

·         In your view, what is the purpose of a work of art (i.e., why do you produce works of art; what role do they play in your life and/or in the lives of others)?

I had a hard time getting past the first one, but as she needed answers by today (yeah, I am a great procrastinator), I finally buckled on the necessaries and got to typing. This is what I wrote:

clip art

I took my time answering this because I am afraid I donʼt really consider myself an “artist,” rather someone who went into eduction for as long as possible, and thatʼs about it. However, I will try.

I became who I am because I like the arts, visual/performance/literary (I like art enough to be pretty cautious, even derogatory about considering fashion or advertising arts). I act because I liked it from childhood on (beginning with memorizing and performing the Ronald Coleman 78-rpm records of A Christmas Carol for my family when I was still preschool age) and got kind of pushed into performing by an excellent high school speech and drama instructor, Mrs. Marilyn Vincent at Mt. Pleasant Community High School. I write for vaguer reasons, except that I seem to always remember writing stuff ever since I learned the skills, memories extending back to comic books created with a friend at lunch time in first and/or second grade and my Adventures of Capt. Furgo in third or fourth grade that I was polishing into an illustrated booklet in eighth grade (gone now, sadly). Itʼs just what I do. An anthology of poetry I scammed from my motherʼs shelves also stimulated writing in verse (and probably also condemned me toward becoming an English, speech and drama teacher, too). Writing and theatre meet in my plays, of course (mostly written so the students at school had something to perform… cheaply).

An artist is somehow compelled to (meaning: by nature a person who does) perform the activities that society or culture has deemed artistic. Perhaps there is a desire for prominence or polish in those activities as well. One is able to become wrapped up in the details and even the frustrations of making something (or making something happen). One can remain focused on such excruciating details for prolonged periods of time. One daydreams (is that imagination?). Most artistic persons I know seem somehow withdrawn socially or perhaps self-involved (I worry about the relation between artistic involvement and the spectrum of autism). One seeks perfection or at least polish and skill.

Art reflects reality (as a victim/offspring of the Western Civ Romantic movement, I have to acknowledge an indoctrination at least that “self-expression” may be involved, but I find that issue is probably socially conditioned and not necessarily basic to artistic endeavor). Art imposes something new (but not always novel or innovative) on reality as well. Art is less practical than related activities such as, say, philosophy. Art may move people emotionally (I think thatʼs the “beautiful” aspect of art that I am getting at, not a mere tearjerking maudlinism). A work of artistic creation may reveal significance or meaning, if only to the maker, upon reflection. (And letʼs not forget the now obvious deeply prehistoric roots of artistic practices, which have to be [perhaps] rooted with magical or supernatural practices and/or speculation.)

Beauty is an experience for me personally, not a thing capable of definition. Culturally, beauty has traditionally been a philosophical construct (all the way back at least to Plato, obviously) and thus a muddled (yeah, I am thinking of you Thomas Aquinas) and muddied concept (no thanks whatsoever, Immanuel Kant). My personal take is that beauty comprises a set of notions attempting to abstract or describe a deeply emotional (and therefore limbic [as in brain construction] and therefore also pre-verbal) response to natural and possibly supernatural stimuli, often felt as a sense of exaltation or insight or calm assurance or personal awareness. Since its roots and nature are emotional, “beauty” is thus not conducive to getting into words or making into an abstraction. Beauty is deeply connected to the imagination. I personally question the Romantic supposed natural connection/identity between beauty and art.

The beauty of art would consist in a work of art modeling reality in an emotionally/imaginatively suggestive or stimulating way. A beautiful work of art, like a beautiful mathematical theorem or scientific theory, models reality well (although not necessarily “realistically,” just as quantum dynamics defies common sense).

Art has no “purpose.” Frequently, on a social level, art entertains, but I deeply question/disbelieve that entertainment is the purpose or reason for art. I write and I do plays because itʼs fun for me. I get pleasure from the activities involved in the process(es). As an art “consumer,” I frequent museums because I enjoy looking at the works of art (I like examining the brushstrokes, for instance, as well as “appreciating” the image on a canvas; and my wife, who adores Impressionism, and I get a kick of trying to find the correct distance from such a painting when the image, as we say, “pops into focus,” like a brightly illuminated slice of reality in a tiny rectangle [and from our experience they always do, although no museum yet has given us enough distance to really appreciate Monetʼs Water Lilies]. And thereʼs amazement in realizing just how far away from the canvas that point of clarity is. Did the artist ever see it that way, having to paint right up next to the canvas?). I like the historical aspect of museum-going, too. I like attending plays because of personal pleasure as well, getting caught up in the story but also studying the production and performance techniques being used. My most constant artistic pleasure is reading, mostly for the story in fiction and the communion with better minds and wider experiences than my own. And to experience what I simply never could unimaginatively/practically, getting beyond my own dull reality (which fits all kinds of art).

Since high school I have written wanting to become “a writer.” But throughout my teaching career a lot of what I wrote was for school in one way or another, deliberately (as in plays) or provocatively, as in bringing in my own poems (not often) to help explain and experience poetic analysis and interpretation. I do wish to/dream of getting published (although I donʼt enjoy the drudgery and rejection of actually making the effort to submit stuff), but I get a good deal of pleasure from reading my own sentences, too (even if that means I then need to revise or correct or improve).

I have acted because I could and I enjoyed it (and once now I have even been paid to act — thanks). I have directed and done technical stuff in theater because itʼs been necessary (and can be fun/pleasurable). I do like making things, even though other people often have greater and better skills than mine, so I would rather let them do that painting, construction or designing. The audience aspect can be interesting as a director, but essentially I donʼt really enjoy the performances; theyʼre just what it all builds up to.

Often I draw or act or write because me doing it is easier or simpler, faster or more practical than acquiring the result in another way.

And I never even considered music in this whole little dissertation! (And music may complicate a lot of what I said above.)

Does any of this help?

A better closing question here on the blog would be: So what about you? Whatʼs your answer to any or all of those six questions?

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.