A VISITOR FROM THE PAST

Chapter XVI

Andrew Jackson has travelled forward in time. Landing in 2019, he attends a Presidential press conference with his host, Matt Loveless.

host : Please, sir. Comport yourself with dignity while the President is speaking.
AJ : Son, why do you persist in calling that one ‘President’?
host : Because he is.
AJ : Of the US?
host : Yes.
AJ : Well, if that don’t beat all … Come on. That can’t be the President. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.
host : Nevertheless …
AJ : What’s the matter with him? Was he wounded on a battlefield?
host : Not him, no.
AJ : Dropped on his head? His whatzis get whacked off by a baling machine?
host : Not to my knowledge, no …
AJ : He’s obviously not all there. I get the impressiom he’s been injured, … that some part of his body has been deleted forcibly and without his consent and he won’t admit it, even to himself.
host : Could be. I don’t know of it, though.
AJ : I knew a gentleman just like that when I was a farmer in Tennessee.
host : Oh?
AJ : He was impossible to deal with. Had mean things to say about absolutely everyone. Unfortunate, but there you are.
host : What did he do?
AJ : That was the oddest part about him. You see, he was a horse trader.
Host : But you said …
AJ : That no one would deal with him. Exactly. He was the world’s worst horse trader.
And to listen to him, he was the greatest horse trader there e’er was. No one was as successful as him. No one could craft a deal as cunningly, as, as … artfully as it could be done. Because no one had the insight, the sensitivity, to recognize what would satisfy both parties, or the wisdom to actually accomplish such an agreement but him!
The truth was, he was completely incompetent to make any such settlement, and for the very reasons he stated, but in reverse. If he had had the insight and sensitivity and wisdom, he was in the perfect position to make some earth-shaking deals for some prime horseflesh.
host : So what really happened then?
AJ : His father made all the deals. Or I did. See, this fellow didn’t own any horses. They all belonged to me or to his father. His father had some of the finest horses I’ve seen anywhere, trotters and pacers and thoroughbreds, and a unique strain of walkers, I never saw the like. Ever.
We owned the horses, and another fellow, Warren Saddrap, trained them. Grub – the fellow I was telling about, whose name was Gregory but we called Grub – he was just a glorified stableboy, who mucked out the stalls and groomed the horses.
I must say, though, he had one skill in which he surpassed everyone else. That was gelding. He could snip the ballocks off a stallion and have him prancing around the meadow in fifteen minutes like nothing happened. Same with steers. He neutered all my steers as long as he was on my place.
host : How long was that?
AJ : Around seven years. No … maybe less. Six. Maybe six years.
host : Sure it was more than two though?
AJ : Yeah.



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He’s No Caligula …

So here we are again. Democracy is in the wringer, so some asshole sweeps in with
The Solution. Declare an Emergency, Save The Nation!
The Roman Republic, the Weimar Republic, the Czech Republic.
Now, the American Democracy, done by the Leader of the Republican Party. He’s a fascist. “Republican” is a brand name,

Democracy is inefficient. It takes time talk to everybody and hear what they have to say.
Democracy is undramatic. Compromise happens behind doors.
Democracy, being political, isn’t loving. Politics is polite warfare.
– A word, here, about compromise. This is a political practice, not a moral one. The democratic process is political and is meant to create decisions among people of different moralities. The object is to moderate among populations where everyone is free to have their own principles and no one has the license to impose their principles on anyone else. If you want a life of love, become a Buddhist monk.

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Plan B

I’m alone, retired. Live in a senior-citizen apartment building I found somehow where I don’t know anybody and everybody keeps to themselves. It’s peaceful there.

Last Saturday night, I lost my phone.

I didn’t notice the phone was missing until bedtime. All I could accomplish before morning was find an ATT store, online. The nearest one was at the mall.

I don’t drive. Uber, Lyft. You order them through apps on your phone..

Fortunately, the Mall is nearby. I can get there by cab, for cash. You can’t flag cabs on the street here, you have to order them. By phone.

If it was a weekday I could go into the building rental office and call a cab on their phone, but it was Sunday.

I read, I watched TV, I dozed off and on through the day and into the night. I figured I’d clear it up in the morning. But about 7:30 I fell deeply asleep. Didn’t wake up until after 4:30 pm. The rental office closes at 4.

I’m retired. Let it go until Tuesday.

#

The next afternoon, at the ATT store, I thought to ask, “Am I Insured?” Yes. This turned out to be such a good thing I resumed breathing, having not realized I had suspended the practise. Apparently, when I signed up for the service, I contracted to buy the iPhone for $50/month. The Contract still had fifteen months to run. Insurance would replace my phone free for only $159 – but not today. They’d send me a “reconditioned” phone by mail. I’d get it tomorrow, or the day after that, and then everything would be OK. In the meantime, the nice guy would sell me a temp phone for $40. Great. Everybody should have a second phone, against just this sort of emergency, anyway. He’d put it on my same phone number. Great!. People could still call me, and vice versa, and by tomorrow (or the day after) everything would be OK. Great.

The day after, then, I came home (via Uber) from grocery shopping to find a little cardboard box at my door, with my replacement phone in it. Everything was underway to being OK.

After I put the groceries away I followed all the instructions and soon had my reconditioned replacement phone restored from The Backup, even as I cooked some of those groceries for dinner. And after I ate, I called Customer Service to have my temporary phone disconnected from my number and my reconditioned replacement phone connected to that same phone number.

What phone are you talking to me on now? asked Customer Service.

We’re talking on my temporary phone.

And you want me to do what, again?

Carefully, I restated what I wanted done. As I did I searched my narration to see if I could find any point of ambiguity that could account for the Customer Service technician’s distraction. I could not.

You can’t be talking to me on a phone I’m disconnecting, sir.

I wouldn’t think so, no.

You have to be talking to me on a phone not associated with any activation or deactivation.

why do I have to be talking to you at all?

[sputtering] Because that’s the way it’s done.

You mean, you people, who own all the phones in the world, need me to buy a third phone for you to connect a replacement instrument to my phone number?

O no, not at all. You don’t have to own the phone. You can borrow a neighbor’s phone, or your mother’s. You can’t be talking to me on a phone I’m connecting or dis …

I’m sorry, this is too insanely stupid. I can’t deal with it tonight. I’m going to call you back in the morning.

I hung up.

The next morning, I called Customer Service again.

[bright sunny voice] As I understand it, you have a temp phone connected to your nunber, and your replacement phone is ready, and you want the temp phone disconnected and the replacement phone connected to your number. That it?

Yep.

Well, I can do that.

I knew you could.

She said she’d call mem back momentarily, and everything would be OK real soon.

Five minutes later, the temp phone rang. It was her.

OK, it’s all set. All we’ve got to do i …

The temp phone went dead.

I’m still waiting fot the replacement phone to ring.

#

It’s now a week later. A couple of calls from concerned friends hang in my voicemail like insects in amber, like filets in a meat locker.

I’m going to the rental office as soon as I post this. From there, I’ll go to the ATT Store. I expect that to settle this. Maybe I’ll update things when I return. Maybe not. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

Frankly, I’m still deeply confused. Primal Natural Law states that The Phone Company turns phones off and on much like the God of Abraham began Genesis. “Let there be Service,” and there was Service.
The vision of an impotent ATT unable to function without my help makes me so stiff I can barely walk. I want to fuck every flip-phone in this area code, plow a furrow along the entire perimeter of Beinn Bhreagh Estate if not all Cape Breton.

Next, I expect to find the IRS asking me for a quarter so they can report some sidewalk peddler for inappropriate deductions.

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No Name for This

Whoo. What a day!

Before today, all meetings put me to sleep. If I was actually involved I would likely stay awake longer, but eventually I would nod right out. If no one was sitting beside me, I’d lie down on the empty chairs.

Today, the House Committee On Whatever’s grilling of Mark Zuckerberg was absolutely riveting. I wish I had taken notes. But, as I did not, I can fall back on only my faulty brain to reconstruct my sensual memory of the event.

Zuckerberg conducted himself correctly. He spoke the truth in simple language so that even Congressmen could understand what he said. Many of his inquisitors had serious concerns.

There were fewer Democrats who found fault with his vision than there were Republicans who endorsed it. All in all, a healing moment for America.

Earlier in the day, apparently, John Boehner announced his position on marijuana had “evolved” and he had taken a position on the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a “cannabis corporation” operating nationwide.

“I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is required so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic,” said Boehner. De-scheduling means ‘legalizing’. None of this ‘medical’ crap, no need to specify ‘recreational’. I know “amazing” is just another buzzword now, like “awesome”. applied to whatever mundane event or object currently being plugged. So I am constrained. I will not characterize.

My immediate impulse is to insert a cynical “Oh yeah?” in this blank pause, and I would, if I was hip enough to name a possible “ulterior motive” or deranged enough by paranoia to invent one. It’s this very silence within me that I fear will prove to be the “reason” I will never write the gripping crime novel I know I have within me. It saddens me that I cannot trump up a plausible scenario in which the ex-Speaker of the House almost subverts the American democracy. But, you know, the night is young. I will gnaw on this bone the rest of the evening. Perhaps, when tomorrow dawns,  I shall have a grittier tale to tell. Who knows? If so, maybe I’ll lay it on you.

Zuckerberg said numerous times today that the author of anything posted on FaceBook retains ownership of that post, or at least co-ownership with anyone who “shared” it. This is somewhat different from other statements I have heard about postings, claiming that anything anyone posted on FB became the property of FB.

Ah. Here perhaps is the Revelatory Detail. Early in the afternoon Boehner’s successor as Speaker, Paul Ryan, announced his retirement at the end of this term. Speculation on his choice centered on expectation that t.Rump’s behavior had revolted the voting public and there would be a Democratic tsunami in the mid-term elections.

The opposition is always seen as the odds-on favorite at the beginning of the mid-term campaign. After all, they haven’t been fucking up in the pilot’s chair. And this incumbent incompetent actually has a diagnosis, “malignant narcissist”. That burden didn’t disqualify others from the Presidency, though.

T.Rump has been likened to Andrew Jackson, a cruel racist. Such personalities are out of fashion now. Maybe that was one of the counts against Jackson in his term, too, though racism wasn’t the topic and the President’s cruelty wasn’t mentioned. His opponents focused on his bride’s lack of a tangible divorce decree from her first husband, whom she had lived with in the backwoods of rural Mississippi in the late 1700s. She probably didn’t have one. The opposition newspapers hounded her to death.

The fundament of Jackson’s popularity was his military success against the Creek Indians in 1814 in Alabama, and the British in 1815, in New Orleans. I mention this in recognition of today’s capping event, the brouhaha regarding Syria’s President Assad’s poison gas attack on his own people, which actually happened over the weekend. It seems Russia, after issuing assurances they would prevent Syria from attacking with gas, was complicit in the attack. T.Rump, currently under investigation for collusion with the Russians in an attack on the 2016 election process, tweeted “Syria”, in his entertaining, irresponsible manner, that missiles “will be coming, nice and new”, with a jovial note to “Russia” not to partner with a “Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”

So today, missile cruisers stand off the Lebanese coast. Somebody, I think a tweeter quoted on C-Span, suggested that the first missiles be targeted on Assad’s house, “so that he’d know what his people felt like when they came home after a hard day.”

A missile strike resulting in discomfort for Assad, if not his death, is not out of the question.

The braying jackass could conceivably come out of this ahead. It might even take the edge off his asininity.

Sorry. Got carried away again.

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Ten Things To Do When Your Neighbors Are Beating On Each Other

AngelYesterday, a friend of mine posted on Facebook the fact that a neighbor couple was involved in screaming fights, and she could think of nothing other than doing Something to Help Them. To make matters worse, she couldn’t think of anything she could do. I read this early yesterday, and from that point I on could not think of anything other than what I might do, were I in her position.

By lunch, I had figured out ten actions which I might take. Therefore, having brought up the subject here, I feel obliged to present them to you.

Some of my ideas entail resources I cannot call upon. However, I am not in my friend’s situation. Perhaps, if ever I am, I shall have those resources available at that time.

1. Erect bleachers outside their place, and sell tickets. In the concession stand attached to the ticket booth, I would sell pennants with “His” and “Her” names on them, as well as hot dogs and energy drinks.

2. Drown them out with fireworks, heavy-metal music, military band music, the “1812 Overture”, Wagner, Berlioz, and 20th Century Russian composers. Preferably, all at once.

3. Alternately, match the music to their ruckus. In effect, score the event. Pick music in the same rhythm and tempo of their exchange.

4. Record them, just as they are. Use the recording as a sound track for an animation.

5. Similarly, use the recording, augmented with added music, as the score for a ballet.

6. Instead of music, mix current news broadcasts with them.

7. Research all the homes for battered spouses in the area. Print up flyers promoting them. Include tear-off strips with the shelters’ phone numbers on them. Print up at least 500 flyers – better, 500 for each shelter. Then go around the neighborhood stapling them to phone poles. Put them all up. If that requires poles to be completely covered with the flyers, so be it.

8. Get 2 – 3 large, aggressive dogs. When the couple is fighting, let the dogs into their apartment. Run away.

9. When they are fighting, light a fire in their yard. A big fire that will burn for hours. Take care not to ignite any buildings.

10. Stick their garden hose in one of their windows, connected to a faucet and turned on. As above, run away. In this case, it does not matter if they are engaged in combat or not.

Whatever you do, keep in mind this thought: Nobody does Anything for Someone Else’s Own Good. If you find yourself acting on that basis, STOP, take a step back, and consider exactly what you are doing, and what you are getting out of it. There’s probably something else you should be doing, that doesn’t require anybody to change what they are doing at all.

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