I resent not being added to the SPLC’s “Hate-Watch”.

Where’s the Curmudgeon?

Don’t they read my blog? Obviously not. Or maybe I am just too low profile and insignificant to garner any notice. Okay, so adding Curmudgeon550.blog to SPLC’s “Hate-Watch” won’t up their already bounteous contributions, better known as extortions; I’m not sure where to draw that line. I read today that even Chick Fil-A “donated” to the SPLC, $2500 in 2017 through their foundation. Yes, it’s true, because every charity must list extortion contributions on their federal 990, but it was sort of a mistake. That donation was made by a volunteer advisory board member. That same year, the foundation also donated to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Salvation Army, Paul Anderson Youth Home, Meals on Wheels, Atlanta Mission, Holocaust Survivor Support Fund, Georgia Historical Society, Brain Health at Emory University and more than 300 others. The first two, being explicitly Christian and evangelical, were the source of the self righteous “anti-lgbtq” protests. Well I’ve also given money to explicitly Christian and evangelical groups, why can’t I get protested? Why is no one marching around my building with arrow-shaped signs saying “hater” pointing to my door? Why is no one slandering me to my building manager?

If you ask me, this is a clear case of prejudice against little people—albeit in the sense of being low profile and insignificant rather than stature (is it my fault that I am 5’10”?). Well, due to the ravages of old age and constantly looking down at my feet when I pass strangers, I’m closer to 5’9”. But who cares about an inch when reputation is at stake? I call this profile-ism, prejudice against the low profile, not to be confused with profiling, which is a mortal sin that practically guarantees a hallowed place on Hate-Watch. I see that President Trump has just misgendered Conan, the “hero” Belgian Malinois dog who was injured on the al-Bahgdadi raid. That dog is apparently female, and Mr. Trump kept referring to “him”, which is perfectly fine with me. Stick that in your accessible orifices, SPLC! Why the heck was she named Conan anyway? Wasn’t Conan the Destroyer a comic book hero, and wasn’t he played in the movies by Arnold Schwarzenegger, of bulging muscles only possible in a testosteroned body? Didn’t that same Arnold win Mr. Universe, didn’t he play the original Terminator? Yes, I distinctly remember “I’ll be back”, in a deep voiced Austrian accent. So, who can blame our President for misgendering? And if it was on purpose, so much the better. Are you listening, or reading, SPLC? Toxic male heroes are just more credible.

My dear readers, help me out….or expose me. Give me up to the SPLC. How can they be credible, if they ignore haters like me? At the very least, suggest that they add profile-ism to their list of hate crimes. In my case, they don’t even have to read my mind, nor mystically divine my intentions, like they do with Stephen Miller, Franklin Graham, Chick Fil-A, and most groups using the words “Christian”, “family”, “constitutional” or “patriot”. I don’t see my blog on their list of hate ideologies. If they include Phineas Priesthood (“The Phineas Priesthood is not an actual organization; it has no leaders, meetings, or any other institutional apparatus.”) and Neo Folkish (“Born out of an atavistic defiance of modernity and rationalism, present-day neo-Völkisch, or Folkish, adherents and groups are organized around ethnocentricity and archaic notions of gender.”), why not Curmudgeon 550.blog? I guess I would have to furnish an appropriately worded blurb, like the two above. Okay, here goes: “Curmudgeon550.blog appears to be the work of a single demented individual, who enjoys provoking the marginalized, excluded, disenfranchised masses and those who bravely speak for them.” No, I don’t enjoy my work any more than SPLC enjoys listing groups on Hate-Watch, but hey, someone has to get their hands dirty. What mud pies are they playing with these days? According to their website…..

“Currently, our litigation is focused on five major areas: children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and mass incarceration. Before reporting to the SPLC, please report hate incidents or crimes to your local law enforcement.” Ah yes, don’t waste our time with “crimes” you can actually witness, they are too insignificant to garner extortion donations. Let the fuzz investigate first, then we’ll see if it makes the WaPo or NYT. If it does, you won’t have to report to us, we’ll already be composing a letter to donors!

The power of BELIEF!

The Miami Dolphins played their first game on September 2, 1966. In 1970, they gave up a first-round draft pick to the Baltimore Colts for the rights to future Hall of Fame head coach, Don Shula. This was not the first time a team traded draft picks for a coach, though it was one of the most successful of those trades. In 2002, the Oakland Raiders parted with Jon Gruden for a first round draft pick and $8 million from Tampa Bay. Gruden’s TB Buccaneers promptly won the Super Bowl that year, beating…..the Raiders in the championship game. Ah well. Other coaches whose contracts were bought out (for a variety of considerations) were Bill Parcells, Herm Edwards, Mike Holmgren and Bill Belichick. Those deals all worked out well for their new teams. The year before Shula, under coach George Wilson— not exactly a “household name”, he probably never owned a chain of upscale steakhouses like his successor—the Dolphins went 3-10-1. 1969 was a notable year for the team. They were one of the worst teams in a now defunct football league, the AFL, American Football League, (which merged with the NFL, and became the American Football Conference of the NFL). They were demoralized—new league, new coach, many new players, no identity.

Two years after coach Shula entered the picture, the Dolphins were undefeated Super Bowl champions; 47 years later that unique imprimatur—undefeated champions—still applies. The backstory is belief. In 1986, I went to a seminar featuring Tim Foley, who starred at cornerback for the Dolphins from 1970-1980. He used coach Shula’s introduction to the team to illustrate the power of belief, coupled with the willingness to translate that belief into action and results. Here, with my typical rhetorical flourishes, is the story: The team gathered in the conference room, nervously awaiting the entrance of the famously intense coach. Suddenly, there was Shula, standing at the lectern. He moved his gaze from player to player, taking their measure. Then he said, “we will win the Super Bowl this year.” Some heads nodded in assent, some smiled broadly, but others shook their heads side to side, or looked away. All reactions were noted by the notoriously uncompromising coach. Then he said, “everyone who believes we will, raise your hand.” A few veterans, along with rookies and some younger players who didn’t know any better, raised their hands. Foley paused his tale, for effect.

Shula wrote down the names of those who did not raise their hands, and those whose expressions, when he declared their future, were skeptical rather than enthusiastic. Foley said, “all those guys who didn’t believe were gone by the end of the week.” Belief has a galvanizing effect on people, and teams. Unbelief has the opposite effect, and is also infectious. Some of the players that coach Shula traded or released were big time stars, but unbelief can undermine talent, just as belief can elevate the team.

The Bible has much to say about the positive power of belief, and the negative power of unbelief. Jesus Christ raised the dead, walked on water, healed blindness, leprosy and all manner of diseases instantly, and defeated death itself, yet in the town where he was raised, where people thought they knew he was “just” the “son of the carpenter Joseph”: And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13:57-58. Not because He couldn’t, but because His mighty works would have would have been dismissed by the blindness of unbelief.

THE TRANSFIGURATION: Jesus  took disciples Peter, John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray, and the likenesses of Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with Jesus. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen. On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child.  And behold, a spirit seizes him, and he suddenly cries out. It convulses him so that he foams at the mouth, and shatters him, and will hardly leave him.  And I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astonished at the majesty of God. Luke 9:29-43.

The power of belief harnesses the majesty of God!

Getting the stubborn cow into the barn, or be careful where you stand.

Milton H. Erickson was a famous psychologist, hypnotherapist, and story teller, though I think he would have referred to himself as a “change artist.” He used stories, especially those rich in metaphors, to reach and then teach his clients’ subconscious mind. My favorite of the quotes attributed to him is, “Until you are willing to be confused about what you already know, what you know will never grow bigger, better, or more useful.” My favorite story, by far, is one I seem to remember, though my own memory and my improvisational quirkiness might have embellished it somewhat. No matter, the lesson remains, so here it is:

Farmer Orville owned a dairy farm, and he loved his cows. He made up names for each of them, and unlike a lot of farmers who keep their cows penned up in the milking barn, Orville would allow his to run free in the pasture. Every afternoon, he would call his “bell cow”, or Belle, as he lovingly referred to her, into the barn, and the herd would dutifully follow her, which is the function of the bell cow after all. Belle was so well trained that she would circle back after the herd was in the barn, to make sure there were no stragglers. None at all, other than Sadie, that is. Sadie was the anti-bell cow, stubborn as all get out. If cows have thoughts, and those thoughts are translatable to English, Sadie would be thinking, as soon as she heard Orville call, and Belle’s bell tinkling, “ain’t nobody gonna tell me nothin’.”

Orville had fashioned a noose for Sadie’s head, and used it every afternoon as he struggled to pull Sadie into the barn, while she would placidly sit back on her 600 pound haunches, looking at him with the cow’s equivalent of a smirk, though considering the true state of bovine intelligence, the imagined smirk was probably just a response to the taste of regurgitated cud. This farmer-bovine wrestling match went on daily for years. Then one day, the aforementioned Mr. Erickson happened to stop at the dairy barn, where he observed the Orville-Sadie pas de deux. While Erickson was remarkably successful with human behavior, he had never challenged himself with a cow. He bet Orville that within five minutes, he could get Sadie to dash into the barn. While Orville was as stubborn as Sadie, years of struggling with an animal 400 pounds heavier had worn him down. That, and the selfish desire to see this city slicker embarrassed, led him to take the bet. What the heck, if he lost, at least Sadie would be in the barn.

So Milton began to slowly walk around Sadie’s perimeter, like Joshua’s forces around Jericho. Sadie’s liquid black bovine eyes followed his movements, as she became more and more unsettled by this strange behavior. Suddenly, Milton stopped behind her, and grabbing her tail, yanked hard. Orville had made the mistake of standing in front of Sadie, which was logically the place to stand when trying to drag her into the barn. But it was definitely not the place to stand when Sadie, responding to the tug on her tail, bovine synapses telling her that someone was trying to pull her away from the barn, bellowed and rushed pell mell in the opposite direction. That direction happened to be into the barn. Orville found himself in between Sadie and the barn. Sadie made no attempt to swerve. You can guess what happened to Orville.

As he lay in his hospital bed, Orville reflected on the lesson so painfully delivered. Did he lament that his daily efforts with Sadie, while building Popeye-like forearms, resulted in no change of her behavior? Did he regret his own stubbornness in fighting with the 600 pound bovine instead of trying Erickson’s reverse psychology? Was he reflecting on how people were much like cows, and rebellion against authority was a universal human trait? No, none of that. The lesson he learned, which he couldn’t wait to apply, once he was back on his feet, was “I’m making a list of all the dairy farmer buddies who ridiculed me about Sadie, and betting each of them that they can’t pull Sadie into the barn, while I casually line up behind her.”

Shall we be “civilized”? Then what about the wolves?

I have three adult daughters, lovely inside and out, definitely the “apples of my eye.” Not only that, I was born a “sheepdog”. Not the cute, shaggy kind. More like the lower picture. The “sheepdog” metaphor comes from the idea that there are three kinds of people in the world: the wolves, the sheep, and the sheepdogs–protectors of the sheep. These classificationsi tha transcend nationality, race, religion, gender and class. They are about your essential nature. I doubt I would find much disagreement with “the sheep are the most common, the wolves much fewer, and the sheepdogs fewest of all.”

There is at least one business based on that model. Sheepdog Response was founded by Green Beret, Special Forces, Sniper, and former top 5 UFC Middleweight, Tim Kennedy. Tim was also the co-star of Hunting Hitler on the History Channel, and more recently, Hard To Kill, on the Discovery Channel. His website states: “People face threats of violence every day. Most people are unprepared, unequipped, and untrained to respond effectively. This weakness in the flock allows the wolves to attack with great ease and success. The answer is not more laws. The wolves don’t follow them. We must give the good guys the tools they need to effectively respond to violence.”

While I mostly agree with Mr. Kennedy, and recognize that he is marketing his business in that statement, and while I heartily agree that more laws are NOT the answer (it would help if the laws we already have were enforced), there are really no “good guys” (And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Luke 18:18), but we know what he means–the sheepdogs. What prompted this post was reading the latest novel—All The Devils—in the Livia Lone series by Barry Eisler. Livia is a Seattle police detective, a special victims unit cop, who was abducted from her home in Thailand, along with her younger sister, by a gang that specializes in providing young, nubile “product” from mostly loosely policed, or corrupt, Asian countries. Too real world to contemplate for long, unless you’re a sheepdog. Mr. Eisler’s novels share the theme that powerful government figures are involved in the most unsavory pursuits, especially human sex trafficking. After all, how does such a reprehensible industry prosper? His main characters—Livia Lone, John Rain, Ben Treven and the former marine sniper “Dox”—sometimes appear in the other characters’ series.

The plot of All The Devils is like a horrific escalation of the worst #MeToo stories: A US Congressman and “war hero”, “Boomer” Kane, is worried that his sexual (in his mind) peccadilloes in high school are coming back to haunt his re-election campaign. In actual fact, what to him are peccadilloes were vicious forcible rapes, of the kind that are prosecutable, or would be if his father, “Admiral” Kane, who is now Vice-President, had not used his influence to discredit or intimidate the many women who were violated by his degenerate offspring. To make matters worse, Boomer’s best friend in high school, who followed him into the Army, and then Special Forces, Stephen “Snake” Spencer, was the devil on his shoulders who kept encouraging his perversions. The two were inseparable, both in duty and in perversity. They might not have been brought to “justice”, but for the father of one of the girls who was raped and murdered. B.D. Little was an investigator for Homeland Security, who relentlessly pursued every lead or rumor about what truly happened to his “little girl”. Speaking as a father, a very protective kind, a Bengal sheepdog, I know my daughters are not “little girls” anymore, but I will never forget the feelings of holding those babies, and at an emotional level, they will always be “daddy’s girls”, so let’s forgive Mr. Little his indulgence.

Livia herself was kidnapped, raped and terrorized as a child, her younger sister was murdered in addition, and she made it her life’s mission to protect others from the same fate, though in monumental sheepdog fashion, her other mission was to seek out the violators of her family. Seek, find, then what? The Thai pirates were protected by the Thai police, who were protected by their politicians, who were paid by United States Congressmen, who were protected by the Secret Service, many of whom shared the “spoils” of their efforts. How do the victims get “justice”? In Mr. Eisler’s world, and in my fantasies, justice is usually the following, depending on which character is meting it out: for Livia, it’s usually delivered as a bullet or with a sword; for John Rain, it’s either a sword or a “natural” death (his specialty as an assassin); for “Dox”, first name Carl, last name not used, former marine corps super sniper, it’s almost always a long range .338 Lapua round, the recipient never expecting it nor aware of being hunted. All The Devils is somewhat different from the other novels. The bad guys—Boomer and Snake—are arrested and tried, though Snake is so grievously injured it is unlikely he will ever be able to feed himself, and Boomer is probably blinded for life. Yeah, being civilized is arresting them, but in a father’s fantasies and Barry Eisler’s novels, the evildoers get what is really deserved.

Modern Love vs. Ford v. Ferrari vs. Chick Fil-A.

From David Cole’s Takimag.com review of Ford v. Ferrari: “2019 was supposed to be Hollywood’s year of Intersectional Diversity, but the handful of good films—such as Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joker, The Irishman, and now Ford v Ferrari—keep turning out to be period pieces about straight white men made for straight white men by straight white men. While sizable opening-weekend audiences gave this buddy picture an A+ CinemaScore grade, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s media empire was incensed by it. Hannah Elliott complained in Bloomberg that the hit film dared to lack today’s obligatory Diversity-Inclusion-Equity (DIE):

‘But what I saw is a devastating picture of the lack of diversity that permeated the industry in the 1960s…. Because ‘Ford v Ferrari’ shows a generation best left dead and gone. Picture this: …men dominate the screen for 98% of the time, by my unofficial count. They are in the executive suites at Ford and Ferrari, in the workshops and garages in Venice, on the track out at Willow Springs Raceway. (And when I say men, I mean white, straight men.’)” Hey Hannah, I normally don’t write the F-bomb in my blog, but for you, I make an exception. Fuck you Hannah!

“Devastating picture of lack of diversity.” Well, excuse-mee, the Ford that went 218 mph way back in 1965 was built by white, straight men. Tough shit if you don’t like it! Cole continues: The critique I heard most often about ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ could easily apply here: This is a film celebrating those nostalgic golden days when white men ruled. Ford v Ferrari is the largely true story of the corporate rivalry to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race during the Peak America years of 1963–1966. Strikingly, the filmmakers avoided almost all concessions to contemporary social justice fetishes. The only adjustment was to drop all mention of Shelby’s lurid love life (he was married seven times) and concentrate solely upon Miles’ decorous marriage. The movie is full of talk of ‘redlining,’ for instance, but it’s about the risk of burning out the engine by revving it over 7000 RPM, not about discriminatory FHA loans. No nonwhite or non-male characters were concocted to make the history more palatable to today’s anti-white-male prejudices. In summary, straight white men just keep ruining things for everybody else by having more talent and getting more done.”

Then there’s the new Amazon video series Modern Love. With such a title, audiences might be forgiven for expecting “contemporary social justice fetishes.” I was, but what a totally pleasant surprise! Fathers, elderly people and bipolar disease sufferers were treated with respect and admiration in eight monumentally memorable episodes. Yes, there was diversity: mixed race dating, mixed race friendships, and homosexual parenting were each handled with intelligence, sensitivity and depth. I suppose the closest equivalent on network TV is This Is Us, but that show had to deal with the inevitable decline in depth, according to the formula intelligence = inversely proportional to the number of episodes. The important thing, to me, about Modern Love, was that quality of both entertainment and edification is not related to diversity or any other social justice theme, but neither was diversity a drag on it. See it!

You may wonder what Chick Fil-A has to do with either Modern Love or Ford v. Ferrari. Some backstory here: CF-A is a fast food restaurant chain specializing in chicken, prepared with care and love. Yes, love. CF-A also has a foundation which contributed to worthy causes, like the Salvation Army and the Fellowship Of Christian Athletes (FCA), until recently. While they are a truly equal opportunity employer, and deliver great food and value to all customers, that’s not good enough for the lgbtq gestapo, who spread lies that the causes that the CF-A foundation donated to were “anti-gay.” Can I get another fuck you in? Anyway, when CF-A tried to open their first store in formerly Great, but now just Britain, in London, the LGBTQ mafia organized massive protests against the American chicken purveyors, tarring them with the “anti-gay” brush, which was completely false, but who cares about truth when your identity is wrapped up in sticking your sexual organ into the sewer pipe of waste expulsion. Yes, that’s yet another fuck you, a record I may never eclipse. At least two US airports—San Antonio, Texas and Buffalo, NY—have banned CFA from opening, thus signaling potential customers that self righteous queer-loving or fearing government bureaucrats who hate truth would rather curry favor with the lgbtq gestapo-mafia than represent either truth or their constituents, why should we be surprised that the land of blancmange and kidney pie protested a superior cuisine? Okay Brits, stick with the world’s blandest food.

Anyway, CF-A recently announced that they will suspend donations to Salvation Army and FCA. They are a franchised business, after all, and want to expand without dealing with boycotts and lies, and while I wish they would have announced their own, polite version of fuck you to the lgbtq assholes, I can understand their greater loyalty to franchisees and stockholders. Now, the main lesson here is, support what you want to signal approval of, and boycott what you disapprove of. If the CF-A protests had resulted in dramatic increases in customers and sales, who knows whether CF-A would have stood stronger. You can still vote with your dollars for the movie Ford v. Ferrari, telling Hannah Elliott and her ilk, fuck you. As for watching Modern Love, I still recommend it.

The faint echo of loneliness, an autobiographical account of online dating.

I am 73, and hard of hearing. I limp from a stroke, my balance is precarious, and I live alone, divorced. And I am happy and content! Perhaps I shouldn’t be, perhaps I should make this autobiographical account of looking for companionship on the Internet a tear jerker, a “poor me” story. That would be impossible, because I am so blessed: blessed to be a son of the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ; blessed to have three wonderful daughters and to be friends with their mother, my former wife; blessed to be a citizen of the 🇺🇸; blessed to be the kind of person who is comfortable with my own company, who is not subject to the whipsaw of emotional extremes. I didn’t include among my blessings being a white male; while that circumstance of birth has made some parts of my life easier, ease does not develop character or initiative. The blessings were the result of my actions and decisions, though the call of Christ unto salvation is irresistible and ordained. Even being an American citizen was a decision: I fled to Canada after quitting Army Officer candidate school, knowing that my next step was Vietnam, but decided to return and complete my duty, despite my opposition to that war.

After having been married for 29 years, living alone was actually a kind of relief. Doing what I wanted when I wanted, without being accountable to anyone (though my daughters and I text and email and visit regularly), was like a vacation, at first. When I saw a notice that four 1970’s vintage British Prog Rock groups were doing a tour together, and appearing at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, California, 1,000 miles away, I immediately bought a ticket without checking with anyone, and decided to drive, because the route through rural Oregon was one of the few I had not driven before—I have visited every National Park in Washington, Oregon and California and many state parks. Okay, back to looking for love. When I got back from Cali, I discovered that my former wife had found new love on the Internet, and was planning to get married next year. Hmm, maybe I could be successful in the same way. Or not, since getting married again was not on my radar.

I enrolled in three dating sites, and made certain things very clear in my profile: age, creative writing, background, importance of my Christian Faith, political attitudes, central beliefs, quirky offbeat sense of humor and that I was not looking for marriage, rather companionship that could develop into something more. Here are the takeaways, my personal lessons about Internet “dating” or searching: few women use their real name, and most reveal very little about themselves but a lot about what they are looking for; the “dating pool” for someone like me—very self revealing, creative, highly educated and articulate, clearly not inclined to marriage, expecting a similar level of those traits—was small to non-existent, at least within 60 miles of Spokane, Washington. But, on the last day of my membership on the sites, someone sent me a message that she was intrigued by my profile and wanted to correspond. Yay? Maybe?

Since my membership was going to expire the next day, I wrote that we should consider exchanging personal emails and correspond that way. So we did. She wanted to see my writing, so I sent her some blog posts. I have to admit, her enthusiasm and careful reading of them gave me an ego boost, and in her second email she admitted that she was not using her real name in either our correspondence or her email address. That’s understandable, even prudent, for a woman trying to connect with unknown men. As my theme meme says, “anything can be polished online.” However, one theme that she kept emphasizing was, “I’m so glad to connect with a man who embraces true Christianity, there are so many lukewarm pseudo Christians out there.” While I agreed with her, the vociferousness with which she expressed that opinion gave me a little pause. Why? I have found that there is often none, or a negative correlation, between how strongly someone condemns something, and how diligently they practice the opposite of what they condemn. If she criticized people for being lukewarm in their own faith, the odds favor that she is no better. Righteous people don’t talk about righteousness, they practice it. Another cause for pause was all the questions she had for me, while answering virtually none of mine.

Anyway, before deciding to meet, I wanted her to know exactly how my health was, so she could decide if my balance and walking issues were a dealbreaker. Then, the day after I sent that email, I received a diagnosis of cancer, specifically, Merkel Cell Carcinoma, the 6th rarest cancer. My prognosis was good, it was caught very early. After this information, she wrote back that she would take a few days to decide whether she wanted to pursue this relationship, or end it. I was fine with that. In fact, as I thought about the feasibility of developing a close relationship with a woman ten years younger, and healthier and more active than me, I became very self conscious about my walking and energy level. So much so, that I began hoping that she would decide to break it off. Her “few days” became weeks, and now, a month later, I have not heard from her. The “ball is in her court”, so to speak, and every day that passes without her “giving me an answer” makes it less likely she ever will. If our situations were reversed, I would quickly let her know that either I wanted to continue, or not. That is, in my world, the right thing, the courageous thing. Simply not communicating, after giving me her word that she would, is a dealbreaker for me. So why do I still hope to hear back?

Under Communism, you guarded your words. Is that better than becoming a meme?

Don’t turn me into a meme!

Taki’s Magazine, called Takimag for short, is an online magazine of politics and culture published by the Greek journalist and socialite Taki Theodoracopulos and edited by his daughter Mandolyna Theodoracopulos. Taki writes in a piece called Better Red Than Woke: “What amuses me to no end is when millennials whine that their complacent elders bequeathed to them a rotten world that leaves them to live rotten lives. Unprecedented prosperity and the defeat of communism mean little to them. Mind you, it’s close, living under the yoke of communism or the tyranny of the digital revolution and its gadgets. I’ll take the former because you could whisper things to people in Red Square, whereas under the latter, one cannot be heard. People are too busy looking at screens and their ears are blocked. And PC coupled with #MeToo are far more unforgiving and punitive than post-Stalin communism was.”

Modern digital technologies, especially in the guises of social media apps like Twitter, Instagram, #hashtags, Snapchat or, to a lesser extent, Facebook, are like serpentine sewer pipes tapping into the limbic system of humanity, revealing the depths of hearts and souls. As emotional impulses are translated into words and images with a half life of their own, sometimes they really stick. Yesterday, I was watching College Gameday on ESPN, my usual fall Saturday morning ritual, when a bunch of people I didn’t recognize, who were caught by the camera in various embarrassing actions or expressions during years of the show, were featured. Each were being interviewed about the effect of becoming a “meme” on their lives.

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” This celebrated quote has become Andy Warhol’s most well-known statement. It led to the concept of “15 minutes of fame”—the idea that celebrity, from media scandals to memes, will almost always be fleeting. The original quote seems to trace back to a 1968 brochure that Warhol distributed to exhibition attendees in Sweden, and while the expression became his most famous “quote”, he never actually said it. Be that as it may, the Internet and attendant digital technologies have rendered that quote obsolete. Memes live on as long as the Internet lives. The lovely coed trying to catch a football, when the camera recorded the exact second the ball hit her in the face instead, became an object of scorn. The six sorority sisters ignoring the game while passing their phones back and forth, laughing at whatever was on the screens, became objects of ridicule once the camera recorded those vapid expressions. The fat, shirtless literature professor, sitting in the sun in the bleachers, reading a book, waiting for the game to begin, became famous for his flab instead. Some of the people-turned-memes sought fame, like Bella, whose resemblance to Clemson star Trevor Lawrence led to her 15 seconds of fame when her idol hugged her on camera.

If even an unknown person sipping coffee in a dark cafe can become an instant meme when some stranger’s cellphone camera catches a funny expression (and what unguarded expressions frozen by the camera are not funny?), what about a person attending a college football game with national playoff implications, exposed to the roving cameras of ESPN College Gameday? Privacy? Is it an outmoded concept? Roe v. Wade was a 1973 landmark decision by the US Supreme Court. The court ruled that a Texas state law that banned abortions (except to save the life of the mother) was unconstitutional. The ruling made abortion legal in many circumstances. The decision said that a woman’s right to privacy extended to the fetus/unborn child she was carrying. Where in the U.S. Constitution did the “justices” find a right to privacy? I have read the entire Constitution over many times, and have yet to find the word “privacy”, let alone a right to such. The concept developed mainly from of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against “unreasonable search and seizures,” and subsequently became the central argument in several landmark court decisions, including Roe v. Wade. But I digress.

The British drama series Black Mirror, streaming on Netflix, projects our current technological trends into future alternative societies, but no matter how frightening those episodes were, real life, or is it @realife, is more frightening. Consider the true story of Justine Sacco, 30 years old and the senior director of corporate communications at IAC,  the corporate owner of The Daily Beast, OKCupid and Vimeo.

During the holidays in 2013, as she flew from New York to South Africa, to visit family, she began tweeting acerbic little jokes about the indignities of travel–don’t most of us? There was one about a fellow passenger on the flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport: “ ‘Weird German Dude: You’re in First Class. It’s 2014. Get some deodorant.’—Inner monologue as I inhale BO. Thank God for pharmaceuticals.” Then, during her layover at Heathrow: “Chilly—cucumber sandwiches—bad teeth. Back in London!” Stereotypes, to be sure, and often true, but most of us assume that the objects of her scorn are Caucasian. Then on Dec. 20, from Heathrow Airport, before the final leg of her trip to Cape Town: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” OOPS!

She had only 170 Twitter followers when she boarded the plane. It was an 11-hour flight, so she slept. When the plane landed in Cape Town, she turned on her phone. Right away, she got a text from someone she hadn’t spoken to since high school: “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening.” Sacco looked at it, baffled. Then another text: “You need to call me immediately.” It was from her best friend, Hannah. Then her phone exploded with more texts and alerts. And then it rang. It was Hannah. “You’re the No. 1 worldwide trend on Twitter right now,” she said. The furor over Sacco’s tweet had become not just an ideological crusade against her, but also a form of idle entertainment. Her ignorance of her predicament during the 11 hour flight lent both dramatic irony and a pleasing narrative arc. As Sacco’s flight traversed the length of Africa, a hashtag began to trend worldwide: #HasJustineLandedYet. By the time Sacco had touched down, tens of thousands of angry tweets had been sent in response to her joke. “Sorry @JustineSacco,” wrote one Twitter user, “your tweet lives on forever.” That’s how you become world famous in 2013. It has only gotten worse, 6 years later.