Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61 [CNN]

Go Feck Yourself

“Feckless” is one of those words you may have heard, maybe even used, but haven’t much thought about. If one can be feckless, what is it to have feck?

The part you know reads as expected: useless, incompetent, good for nothing. The part you don’t know is what’s lacking: effect. As for how you get from effect to feck — and thus the absence of effect — well, ask the Scots. We hear they’re good cussers.

As is Samantha Bee.

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God Damn America

We don’t have it in us to say much, so we’ll let Chris Hayes handle the details about immigrant children being separated from their families. We’re just exhausted, really, exhausted at the intentional, methodical cruelty being inflicted by our country in our name, exhausted at the atrocities being committed daily by our government, exhausted by the gleeful callousness, exhausted by the lack of basic human decency shown by our leaders and a significant number of our fellow citizens.

Lives are being ruined, lives that will not be recovered by a change of administrations. There is no forgiveness for this, nor will there be justice. We are all damned by this, damned as citizens of a Republic that commits these crimes without reservation. We profess to be a Christian country — many demand that we be so — yet the values we display are of those who would rip babies from mangers.

This country is a fucking shithole, run by animals. We prey on the weak as national policy. When the Anthem plays, there’s no point putting our hands on our hearts. We don’t have any.

Teenage Wasteland

We were fifteen in 1974. It was, in retrospect, maybe not the beat time to be growing up in America. Our political memory began with a pair of assassinations six years earlier. Drastic measures were taken to stabilize the economy three years after that. The first of several gas crises struck a couple years later. And, oh, a President resigned that August.

A month later, we started high school. We were fifteen, after all.

High school was, well, high school. Nothing special about that. We went to class, we participated in band and drama, we did what kids do.

Funny thing about that: Not once, not then, not before, not later, did it ever cross our mind that some idiot might walk in and shoot up the place.

And never could we imagine the people running our country not giving a shit if someone did.

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Careful What You Wish For

Facts, as we know them, haven’t been around very long. It was only a hundred and fifty years ago that science, literacy, communications, and availability of written material started kicking in, providing the distribution of knowledge beyond previously limited enclaves.

It was exciting at first, knowing the world as it is, instead of what we thought it was. New discoveries! New understanding! New breakthroughs! All with the promise of more amazing things to come, soon as we got more facts under our belts. Finally, humanity was being liberated from millennia of superstition!

Yeah, funny thing about that: Folks stopped caring.

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Less Than Nero

The span of recorded history stretches back some five thousand years. Which isn’t that long, really, considering that we as critters have been walking around some 300,000 years. And it’s not even as long as it sounds, since that five grand includes cuneiform tablets.

Really, three thousand years, tops. That’s how far back we can go before things start getting really vague. Blink and you missed us.

That’s the continuity of the world we live in, the world of our language and culture. We speak of vast amounts of time, of a universe billions of years old, of the immortality of fame, but in the West we have no names before Homer. To be among the Immortals is to have your name written down somewhere, to enable passage from generation to generation.

All of philosophy, it is said, is but footnotes to Plato. You don’t get that without Plato being handy on the shelf.

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Aggressive Ignorance

It was at some point during the Eighties that we realized America is fucked. We don’t recall the occasion, but given the era — the Reagan era — it would have had something to do with Our Fellow Citizens preferring lies to the truth.

Because we were sweet and adorable, this came as a shock. Somehow we had grown up thinking truth was something to be valued, that facts trumped fantasies. Somehow we were under the impression that this was a value we shared with other sentient beings who lived under our flag, that of course everyone was interested in the truth, that of course we all wanted to know the facts at hand.

And then, as we cast our first national vote, Americans elected a charming liar as President, and the wheels started coming off.

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