Disrupter Disrupted

Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.42.38 PM

image Yui Mok PA/via AP via The Guardian


This is the funniest man in England right now.  Dominic Cummings.  The guy is hilarious.  He views himself as a “disrupter”.  He thinks governments are a joke and despises the media.  He’s prime minister Boris Johnson’s top advisor and controls with an iron rule what goes on at 10 Downing Street.

Until very recently most Englanders, meaning anybody not living in London, had only heard of the guy.  They didn’t really know anything about him.  Didn’t know what he looked like or that he had a funny, northern England accent.

They certainly didn’t know that the guy who’s at least as in charge of the country as the prime minister, and some pundits suggest the prime minister, like a puppet, does everything he says, is a gormless baldy with the morals and scruples and integrity of an elderly, moth-eaten sock.

This funny man blatantly ignored the lockdown and self-isolation rules that he helped write that were imposed on the entire country.  Why?  Because he’s special.  And the rules for the specials aren’t the same as for the general public.  It’s hysterical.  For some reason he doesn’t like all the attention he’s getting at the moment and many politicians in his putative boss’s governing party very much desire that he fuck off.

Sorry about that.  That word is an old English colloquialism.  I’m using it to lend an air of authenticity to keep this piece from being too fluffy.  I mean, there’s fluffy and there’s fluffy and then there’s fluffier and fluffier and then there’s fluffiest and we’re not going by there today.

No.  This joker takes umbrage at any suggestion of impropriety.  I believe he’s offended.  He resorted to a weaselly press conference statement in 10 Downing Street’s “rose garden”.  I’ll be gooned.  I didn’t know 10 Downing Street had a rose garden.  It’s invisible from the street.  I should know.  I go by there all the time.  I guess it must be somewhere out back.

It’s just common sense.  Power.  The guy who commented on its corrupting properties was English.  It’s Englisher day around here today.  Having nothing more splendid to do in the long hours fighting off the pathogens I took to the overseas press and here was this incredible comedian, top advisor to “Bojo” as the exalted prime minister with the crazy hair is affectionately called.

England, like some other countries I could name, has a terrible affliction right now that it can’t seem to shake.  Weak at the top.  Very weak.  And it’s something just as dangerous as the pathogen but there will never be a vaccine for it.

This joker’s got a soul bro in the U.S. White house named Stephen Miller.  But I’m not going to take him apart right now.

2020 Rose 2
Rose Garden

 

3 p.m.  Shopping spree.  Helps.  Irritation of lining up outside a supermarket and the line isn’t moving.  Look, I just want to buy some groceries, all right?  Is that all right with you?  Pathogen?  You there?

Later. Two SUVs eastbound on Sixteenth Avenue making lefts onto Arbutus Street.  The first goes ahead and then the second one has to wait for oncoming traffic eastbound on Sixteenth.  It’s a lady driver and something the driver of the first SUV didn’t do she finds exasperating.

I can see her behind her driver’s side window throwing up her hands.  We’re first to go northbound on Arbutus as soon as the light changes so from her vantage in the middle of the intersection waiting to turn left she has a clear view of me just as I do of her.

After the hands come down she looks at me and shakes her head.  Looks right at me.  Me.  I’m a complete stranger in a random situation of less than four and a half seconds but am to be enjoined in her frustration and welcomed to it like a long lost friend. I understand and commiserate deeply.  No I don’t.  I have no idea what all this exasperation’s about.  I didn’t witness the first SUV’s crime, if any.

That’s when I remarked that I thought a lot of people’s fuses are a little shorter these days.  There’s a bit of impatience in the air and a grim determination to grind on but if there’s any little thing, even the teensiest, weensiest little thing I don’t like I’m going to go BALLISTIC on your sorry butt, especially because I have no idea who you are and I could care less.

It’s good to stifle these impulses.  We’re ladies and gentlemen.  Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. And most people are.  It’s probably a good thing.  There’s been enough upset already.

2020 Rose 1
Royal William. 20 years in a pot and still going strong

Thanks for stopping by. We’ll be right back.

 

Pathogen Daze

April 8, 2020. 4:50 p.m. Decent day. To get out we go for a drive. We decide to tour the Kingdom of Richmond because it seems like years since we’ve been there. The “downtown” around No.3 road has become a nightmare of new–built concrete, steel and glass with just a few remaining dumpy little strip–malls. Once out of this it’s the same old Richmond, impressively flat and straight–as–a die wide roadways miles long. And you can still occasionally find deep, watery ditches on both sides of the road which is the reason some people used to call it Ditchmond. One is doomed in Richmond without a car.

We extended our adventure to the distant metropolis of Steveston and its multitude of new–built, low–rise row dwellings facing the sun–dappled middle arm of the Fraser River. I spent some time looking for more adjectives in a patch of grass while observing, of course, the two metre rule, and there were signs posted reminding us of it, but realized I’d brought more with me than I thought. You just have to luv these guys.

From Steveston we blustered our way into deep east Richmond on the charmingly named Blundell Road and its many curious, absurdly overbuilt forty room and eighty bathroom mega–houses. We’ve heard and read about them and here they are. Not a great deal of curb appeal but we only saw one with a fancy portico supported by twelve foot, fluted Corinthian columns, so that was good. I can see the guy saying, “No. They must be Corinthian columns! I don’t want any of this Tuscan nonsense.”

IMG_6328

I’m reminded of the old Royal Canadian Air Farce joke. “Things are getting less worse more slowly.” The roadways in Stanley Park have been closed to traffic. We’ve been very wary in these interesting times of people doing stupid things with their cars on our currently low-traffic streets. Fewer cars seems to translate for some into thinking, “Hey, it’s interesting times!  Normal rules don’t apply!”  Right.  If for these guys they ever have.

We’ve seen some of what we feel are these peculiar examples in our travels and that’s what closed down the park to cars, apparently, but we made the cut. We drove around Stanley Park as in days of yore two days ago for most of the same reasons Richmond happened today. We also had occasion to wonder about at least two congregations of human beings. They weren’t large but they weren’t hanging around keeping their distance from one another and we didn’t get the impression they were members of the same, pathogen-free households. We didn’t virtue signal. We drove on.  We were going in the right direction.

IMG_6327
Sidewalk Chalk in Deepest Dunbar

April 9.  Yes, it’s today again.  Always today.  We can’t be anywhere else.  Yesterday’s yesterday and tomorrow’s tomorrow.  And this is today.  We’ve got a yeast culture going.  The boss has started it from scratch.  Anybody out there ever do that in Home Ec.?  Start a yeast culture?  Anybody ever heard of Home Ec.?  I never took Home Ec.  I kind of learned to cook on my own.  I started a yogurt culture once but never a yeast culture.  I just don’t think it’s something that would have occurred to me as something to get excited about.

Yogurt was different.  I’d discovered yogurt.  Yogurt hadn’t been invented yet in the places I grew up.  I was already in my mid twenties the first time I had yogurt.  I think one or two people I was sharing a house with were buying yogurt and I helped myself to some of theirs when they weren’t around.  It was plain yoghurt.  I don’t recall the fat content or if it was even stated on the container in that era but I liked the yogurt.  It was deceptively bland.

When I heard I could make my own yogurt from my own self–perpetuating yogurt culture and never have to buy yogurt again I wanted to try it.  I set to and in just a couple of days here it was, a little dab of yogurt.  I tried it.  It was okay.  It wasn’t long before the novelty of making little dabs of yogurt wore off and I  also became worried about drawing attention to myself as some kind of weird, yogurt guy.  From then on if I  wanted yogurt I’d just buy it at the store like most people.

IMG_6087

I’m quite interested in the yeast culture but have no plans to get personally involved in nurturing it along.  The yeast culture’s name is “Yuri”.  It was suggested that the culture is a living thing, like a pet, so why not give it a name?  Yuri the yeast culture.  Yuri Yeast then.  Hi Yuri!  How you doin’ in there?  Yuri lives in a jar right now.  It’s a medium sized round canning jar complete with lid.  As a yeast culture you could do worse.

World 1,582,604 confirmed cases.  Canada 19,773.  United States 454.304.  It’s not funny but it is a very interesting science experiment.  Some good will come of it too.  It’s only natural.  We just don’t know when.

Down In The Highlands

“A bedraggled paratrooper came stumbling out of the trees at the far side of the clearing. The man had been wounded in the previous days action but had evaded the NVA. As a medic treated his wounds Bodine asked him where the rest of Bravo was.

“Just a little way down the trail,” the youngster said in a quivering voice.

Bodine took his platoon forward. A short distance beyond the clump of trees he spotted the mass of bodies. Bodine, ignoring the carnage, moved beyond the site and set up a protective line. Then he radioed to Captain Leonard to come forward.

A few minutes later, Captain Leonard brought the rest of the company down.

No one could comprehend the horrible scene. Dozens upon dozens of American bodies laid sprawled in death’s grotesque grip. A heavy veil of black flies swarmed over the swollen corpses and the thick pools of blood and gore. The smell of death hung so heavily in the jungle that many of Charlie’s paratroopers were unable to control their stomachs. They staggered behind trees to vomit.

It was immediately apparent to Lieutenant Harrison that many of Alpha’s men had been executed; a large number of their bodies bore ghastly exit wounds in their faces. Other corpses had been mutilated, their features destroyed, rings fingers cut off, and ears removed.

The scene was almost too much for Harrison to handle. He’d never expected to encounter something like this on his third day in the field. He couldn’t deal with it on a human scale. His mind and body began functioning solely on their five years of extensive military training. Oblivious to the carnage, Harrison started searching for his classmates, Judd and Hood. He found their bodies within minutes.

Helicopters brought in stacks of body bags. Charlie Company’s grunts began the gruesome task of filling the rubberized green canvas bags with the remains of their comrades.

Three members of Alpha’s decimated platoon had survived the slaughter. One was the man Specialist Patterson had witnessed changing his M60 barrel with his bare hands. Another man had been shot three times in the back but survived. Lieutenant Harrison found a man who, while he played dead, had had his ring finger cut off by a machete-wielding NVA. After the NVA left the battlefield, the man in his delirium, tried to reattach the severed digit to its stump with the tape that wraps around a smoke grenade’s cardboard canister. Then he stuck his injured hand in an abandoned canteen cover.

Bravo company finally arrived at the site at about 1500. They immediately pitched in to finish policing up the ground. Within minutes of his arrival, Lieutenant McDevitt heard the news about his friend Don Judd. It didn’t seem possible; just two weeks earlier they’d been making plans for R and R. How could Judd be dead?

Back at Dak To, Captain Milton began the grim task of positively identifying the dead. The NVA had been known to switch dog tags on American corpses, causing untold agony for family members when the deception was uncovered. Assisted by 1st Sergeant Deeb and Sergeant Nichols, who knew the members of 2nd platoon, Milton spent the next two days positively identifying his men.

The final toll for Alpha Company was shocking. Out of 137 men in Alpha on 22 June, 1967, 76 were killed. Another 23 were wounded. Of the dead 43 suffered fatal, close range head wounds.

Captain Grosso, the brigade surgeon, signed all the death certificates. Those for the executed Sky Soldiers listed the cause of death as “fragmentations wounds to the head.” A few weeks after the incident Grosso was given a statement, prepared by an unknown source at brigade headquarters, which confirmed the executions. However, Grosso never read it. He was so disgusted by the brutal realities of war he simply scrawled his signature on the document.

On 0845 on November 15 the NVA dumped a dozen mortar rounds on the airstrip. This time they were much luckier. Three C-130s received direct hits. One was slightly damaged but the other two erupted in huge balls of flame. The nearly full fuel tanks on the two transports burned furiously for hours, the intense heat driving off several attempts to douse the fire. Finally somebody decided to just let them burn.

Just across from him, not more than ten feet away, Sergeant Sandstrom writhed in agony. Both his legs were gone. Next to him lay the mangled corpse of a paratrooper. A third man had been blown about ten feet away. One of his legs was gone.

Mescan crawled on all fours to Sandstrom. While he applied tourniquets to the torn stumps, Sandstrom grabbed his arm. Between gasps he asked, “Will I walk? Will I walk?”
“Sure,” Mescan lied.

Dak To: America’s Sky Soldiers in South Vietnam’s Central Highlands
Edward S. Murphy. 1988.


Men in War Series   Why do they do it?  Because they love it.  Let’s take a break.

It’s coffee time.