LS/MFT…

Introduced as the slogan for Lucky Strike cigarettes just after the end of World War 2, “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco” stuck in the minds of generations of American smokers [and non-smokers].

The persistence of stupid, of ignorance and the complete failure of a whole society to act upon reason and science, to respond to unhealthy behavior – says only one thing to me – today. Don’t be surprised if the shithead in the White House gets re-elected.

I consider myself only slightly more educated than the average American. Though I acquired many hours at night school, I always studied what I was interested in. Which was “everything” – instead of suggested course work. Still going – as a retired old geek.

But, I knew enough by 1958 to quit smoking. At the age of 20, I had been smoking for 8 years. By then, more than 2 packs/day. And I quit cold turkey. A struggle – yes. But, it made sense and I had to live up to that. Americans in general smoke a lot less, nowadays. I imagine that’s because many just don’t take up the habit. Accumulated decades of hearing a bit of truth about dying from heart disease or cancer.

Look at how many years it’s required to break that habit. Do you think Americans have learned to do more than respond to the snazziest ad campaign when it comes to election day? Or will their collective consciousness stay stuck on whoever came up with the neatest slogan?

Our quasi-fascist Fearless Leader may only need to rely on the persistence of “Four More Years” – competing with white bread and not a lot of courage.

Pandemic in the Solid South

…So far, about one in 10 deaths in the United States from COVID-19 has occurred in the four-state arc of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia, according to data assembled by the COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer collaboration incubated at The Atlantic. New Orleans is on pace to become the next global epicenter of the pandemic. The virus has a foothold in southwestern Georgia, and threatens to overwhelm hospitals in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The coronavirus is advancing quickly across the American South. And in the American South, significant numbers of younger people are battling health conditions that make coronavirus outbreaks more perilous…

All data in this stage of the pandemic are provisional and incomplete, and all conclusions are subject to change. But a review of the international evidence shows that, as far as we know, the outbreaks currently expanding in the American South are unique—and mainly because of how many people in their working prime are dying…

…In each state, older people are the majority of the people considered to be at risk of complications. But the Deep South and mid-South form a solid bloc of states where younger adults are much more at risk. In Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi, relatively young people make up more than a quarter of the vulnerable population. Compare that with the coronavirus’s beachhead in Washington State, where younger adults make up only about 19 percent of the risk group.

You can read on, examine the discussion, cause and effect…education, healthcare, cultural backwardness. Say they’ll learn from experience? They voted for George Wallace, and they voted for Richard Nixon and they voted for Shit-for-Brains-Trump! Ignorance breeds ill-health and all the rest. Frankly, the folks in charge of the Solid South work best and hardest at not improving at anything.

Think our basic education system isn’t crap? Read This!

❝ Engineers in the Bay Area. Advertising managers in Chicago. Freight specialists in Arizona. The job listings keep piling up at Amazon, a company that is growing in many directions amid one of the tightest labor markets in memory.

On Monday, Amazon said it had 30,000 open positions in the United States, including full- and part-time jobs at headquarters offices, technology hubs and warehouses…

❝ …Last fall, Amazon raised the minimum wage at its warehouses to $15 an hour, and this past summer, it said it would spend $700 million to retrain about a third of its American workers to perform tasks that required advanced skills. The effort included a major push to improve the technical expertise of corporate and tech-focused employees, such as turning entry-level coders into data scientists.

We live in a nation where most of our politicians don’t consider education as critical as infrastructure…and the last time the latter was brought up-to-date the president was a retired general named Eisenhower.

Democratic candidates roll up to support legal weed

Kamala Harris, asked whether she had ever smoked pot: ‘Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?’


Brian Cahn/Shutterstock

❝ Among 2020 candidates, marijuana legalisation is a mainstream issue. Among Democrats, nearly all have expressed at least some degree of support. Even Donald Trump’s lone Republican challenger, the former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, supports it. Advocates are optimistic that the 2020 election could help bring an end to the federal prohibition of the drug.

“The support for marijuana legalisation has quickly become a litmus test in the 2020 Democratic primary,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml). “With the upcoming primary, it is also clear that support for prohibition is ultimately disqualifying with the Democratic electorate – and with the American electorate generally.”

If you aren’t supporting legalization – for purportedly moral reasons, some particular religious fetish, political dementia which has your brain locked into, say, the 16th Century – then, you might be missing the simple economics of “sin taxes” derived from social use of cannabis just as they are realized from beer and the hard stuff.

States generally include a proviso to spend all or most of those funds on something beneficial like education. Again, another issue which American conservatives seem honor bound to ignore. Hopefully, voters will learn to ignore stupidity as thoroughly as they’re starting to reject incompetence.

12 states spend less on schools now than before the recession


Oklahoma Teacher Walkout

❝ * 12 states that made especially deep cuts after the Great Recession haven’t yet restored school funding

* Texas slashed school funding the most, with per-pupil spending 20 percent lower than in 2008

* Teachers are earning less in 42 states than they did a decade ago

The U.S. economy has largely recovered from the Great Recession, but one segment is still struggling to regain its financial footing: America’s public schools…

❝ The findings help shed light on why teachers across the country — from West Virginia to California — have taken to the picket lines since early 2018. In some cases, states that cut spending on their public schools failed to boost it again even as their tax revenues improved. That’s leading to a host of challenges for students and teachers in underfunded schools, from teacher shortages to crowded classrooms.

Doesn’t require too much analysis, folks. States with backwards politicians – usually elected by ignorant voters – don’t think it’s important to get around to providing decent educational opportunities to future voters. You don’t really wonder why, do you?

An island matriarchy – in Europe


Fabian Weiss

❝ A four-hour ferry ride off the coast of Estonia, the sunlit conifers and coastal meadows of Kihnu Island rise gently from the Baltic Sea. You can bike from one end to the other in half an hour. Its four villages house around 700 people—only two thirds of whom live there year-round—and there is no hotel. Yet the island receives 12 times more tourists per resident than some of the most visited places in the world.

These tens of thousands of visitors don’t come for landmarks or amusement parks. Instead, they’re here to experience the unique culture of a place often touted as Europe’s last matriarchal society.

❝ “Kihnu women have a very important role: to keep the cultural traditions,” says Mare Mätas, president of the Kihnu Cultural Space Foundation and a driving force in many community projects. “They are taking care of the human life [cycle].”

Historically, Kihnu’s men left the island for weeks or months at a time, to hunt seals and fish and, later, to crew ships on international voyages. In their absence, women became the ones who tended farms, governed, and maintained traditions—traditions which have survived both time and turmoil.

Worth a visit.