“Have a Better One,” that’s what the cop said to Deckard (Harrison Ford) in the 1982 original version of Blade Runner. He meant the day. I mean the year. 2021 may have been great for the one percent but not for most of us. I do intend to have a better one in 2022. Consider this recap of the past year.
Mine wasn’t spectacular—not even close. More like comme ci, comme ça:
Neither I nor my wife got COVID
Our retirement funds went up
She had rotator cuff shoulder surgery
I simplified the finances and did some “mini-tutorials” for her, just in case I became “unavailable” to do the bills and the bookkeeping
I didn’t get any books out—nor even my Eagle Peak Annual
The mind didn’t get fully mastered; the mental fatigue remained
I didn’t create as much value as I had intended, but I have no regrets—I exerted myself as vigorously as possible
After some physical therapy, I joined the associated fitness center to work on toning my muscles
But I begin the year with the workouts on pause pending recovery from a hernia repair upcoming on the 7th
The AFib does seem on hold, with no episodes since July’s second one
Some goals and objectives for 2021 did come about. See the 2021 post. Those that didn’t will join some new ones for the New Year. 2022 willbe a better one! I boldly declare these achievements will happen–come hell or high water:
Master of the mind—not the other way around
TWO books out
A trip to Northern Ireland
A great Eagle Peak Annual
Great health—for her and myself
More value creation—sharing the power of my Buddhist practice
For those who care, there will still be some political commentary in the coming year. Less even than last year. But facts are facts and truth is truth. Those who spread hatred and lies must be held accountable.
I didn’t bridge the political/cultural divide. It’s as difficult as it seems. But changing oneself is the answer—not the other. Same as for health, wealth and happiness. It comes from within—not from without. That’s the perspective of Buddhism; the faith and practice that works for me and many others. THAT I will offer more on in the coming year—but not, I hope, with heavy strokes. Only a light touch, based on my own experiences and the encouraging words of either Nichiren or Daisaku Ikeda.
The 40th anniversary trip couldn’t happen in 2020. Nor a rescheduled one in 2021. Those were across the pond. This week we settled for three days and some long drives within New Mexico. It’s a big state, geographically—fifth largest in the US. We got our COVID boosters a few weeks ago—so why not a getaway!
Five hours to Roswell—yes, the purported site of that crash landing in 1947. It’s a town of 40,000 or so. We checked in Sunday afternoon. Touring began Monday. We encountered the first of the pandemic’s many collateral effects at the motel—the ice machines were out of order. A picnic cooler of ice at the front desk took their place. Yes, gas prices were up a bit, but we drive a hybrid.
Roswell has much more to offer than UFOs. We stopped first at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art. Sculpture in all sorts of media and from desk top to room size. Mixed media framed wall art. Dramatic renderings of people, places and events—real or imagined, in brilliant hues. FREE admission but donations are accepted.
Next stop: the International UFO Museum! [Note: the admission is slightly higher than stated on the website] Lots to see, hear and read—news clippings, recordings and more from the 1940s and 50s. Plus, info from other times and places. Like the Mayans and more recently, the UK. You’ll find the standard statues of aliens, mockups of the saucer, and mannequins performing an autopsy (nothing disturbing). Plus, all the souvenirs you could imagine in the gift shop. She believes; I’m more agnostic. But we both love sci-fi movies and TV shows—like the CW version of Roswell, already renewed for a third season.
You really can tell where you are by the streetlights in the downtown area—and all the shops with alien-themed items. Clothing, jewelry, mugs, towels, etc. Oh, and the McDonalds with half a dozen silver hued alien figures displayed outside. May be more inside; we didn’t eat there.
We might have had lunch at a well-regarded restaurant, but it was closed. One of the few in Roswell that were. We ate at one of our favorite fast-food chains. The one in Silver City still hasn’t reopened several months after a kitchen fire. Those new drink machines weren’t working in Roswell’s spot. But the food was fine and they had all the items on the menu. They gave us the sodas from behind the counter.
After lunch, we headed to the Roswell Museum and Art Center. Another fine and very large place. Historical artifacts from the Southwest—like guns, swords, armor, equipment, Native American headdresses and much more. Again, like most museums, lots to read and absorb. So much so that you could spend many hours perusing it if you were so inclined. The OTHER side has art—lots of it. That takes less time—unless you are a real connoisseur or an artist yourself studying technique, etc. This one does have modest fees, with the usual discounts for seniors, students, etc.
Dinner that night offered more supply chain issues. An odd one—no mashed potatoes? Local chains have had shortages of chicken, salmon or other items temporarily. (Maybe you have found items unavailable at the grocery store). Tuesday morning, we headed to Truth or Consequences, a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Roswell. Only the last 40 miles were on an interstate. The previous 120 were on two-lane roads, lightly traveled for the most part. Scenic some of the time and when not, at least not busy—only one or two vehicles passed us or were passed by us until I-25.
We missed the hot springs in T or C—that’s what New Mexicans call it. Our last soak was in 2019. Formerly named Hot Spring, it became Truth or Consequences by winning a contest in 1950. Ralph Edwards promised to host his tenth anniversary game show in any place that named itself after the radio program. That happened April 1, 1950.
There are LOTS of geothermal springs in T or C—and other New Mexico locations. A few motels/lodges offer individual tubs in private rooms. Others have multiple communal pools. Most of the latter require swimwear. If you prefer au naturel, there are some for you as well. We don’t, so we got one with a private tub in the room.
I liked it but I am disappointed. Disappointed because of all the spoilers. No, not on Amazon, Goodreads or elsewhere, but on the news media. Most of the blockbusters were discussed on cable news (often times with Woodward and Costa) or quoted in web news. One could reasonably expect the reading audience would be folks who watch or read such reports. If so, what new you learn from the book are details. Details that serve to illustrate or confirm the journalistic and writing credentials of the authors and stuff not juicy enough for prerelease.
From that experience, if you are a person like me, you would be best served avoiding all reports and promos and taking on faith that writers you know will offer something startlingly good. For a book like this, that would be difficult at best given all the coverage.
The one major surprise was the significant amount of reporting on Biden’s campaign, decision making and more. That covers some number of years and events. Possibly as much as fifteen percent or more of the book. Trump and his cult followers, formerly known as the Republican party, are covered in depth on the peril they pose for American democracy’s future. That threat continues growing.
If you don’t follow news of any sort, this book may offer a lot of shocking information to you. Otherwise, it offers some element of schadenfreude–along with increasing your fears for the country.
It’s been twenty years since the worst terrorist attacks on the US in its history. The World Trade Center twin towers fell. The Pentagon suffered deadly harm. A similar attack on the Capitol failed only through the heroism of passengers that rushed the cabin of the plane flown by minions of Osama Bin Laden.
In the immediate aftermath of the these horrible events, political division was put on pause for eighteen months. Since then, the antipathy between Democrats and Republicans has grown. Given my own personal determinations to work on ending the cultural and political divide, I will make no further mention of it on this day.
Instead, I salute those first responders who did what they could to save lives. Many of whom, themselves, fell ill or died as a result of exposure to ash, fumes and toxic chemicals. Second and third responders, if you will, worked to rehabilitate injured survivors. Others supported the remembrance of the dead through memorials.
There are countless observances of this anniversary in person or on various media today. For myself and my family, there is only one that I can contribute. You who have been to this blog before, may have seen comments in 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2018. All have mentioned the good fortune that protected my beloved wife from getting a well-deserved job at the Pentagon–in a section at or near the impact of the plane.
Not luck or coincidence, but her Buddhist practice, and mine, saved her life. She really should have got the promotion. Coworkers were certain of that. It was several years later that the plane struck. The person who got the job died in the attack–as did the man who hired her. Others died as well. One, who went out on a smoke break outside the building, didn’t. Such is karma.
I watched all of the news coverage from a TV in my agency director’s office with others. He was away. Everyone at my wife’s office, a few miles away, were allowed to leave within a short time after the Pentagon event. I, 25 miles away elsewhere in Northern Virginia, could also have gone home. Most people did. After talking with her, I stayed and worked on a budget due in a couple weeks, knowing that she would be home for our teenage children let out from school.
It seems unlikely, improbable–difficult to conceive of restoring a faith in American democracy in this decade. Yet it is essential if the nation is to survive not another attack from without but one from within. On this day, I will rededicate my Buddhist practice to that end.
So, he had bad reactions to the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Oh, boo hoo. Eric Clapton didn’t get COVID, did he? If he did, in his mid-seventies, the virus might well have been fatal. At the least, he could have suffered far worse effects than he got from the vaccine—permanent ones perhaps.
Around the world, millions have died or are suffering from long-COVID. For his brief episode of reaction to a life-saving drug he now offers anti-vaxxer song lyrics and refuses to perform in any venue that requires proof of vaccination. A sad end to a glorious career. Maybe the Queen should take back his CBE.
Meanwhile, in America, at least three right-wing radio show hosts have died of COVID-19. Yes, they were anti-mask and anti-vaccine. There are others; that’s just recent reports. Karma can be a deadly thing.
But that’s not the point, is it? The point is saving lives at a relatively small inconvenience—vaccination or mask wearing. In America today, there are children in pediatric wards on ventilators, some dying and others facing lasting effects. Meanwhile some American governors are banning the mandate of masks in schools.
Irate parents agree with the governors–and threaten school officials with harm if they impose such requirements. Notably, none of the vaccines available in the US are yet to be authorized for children under 12. Masks are their only protection. Recently, one teacher in an elementary school removed her mask during reading time in the classroom. Half the kids were infected with COVID as a result!
One is not free to drive while drunk. Nor is one free to have bonfires in the backyard during dry windy weather in the Southwest. One does not have the choice to endanger the lives of others in pursuit of fallacious freedom to go maskless indoors.
Without the mandate to be vaccinated against Smallpox, polio and countless other diseases humans would still be suffering and dying from them. COVID-19 is NOT the flu. Contrary to the prevailing political winds, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently released a 30-second PSA urging everyone to get a vaccine. McConnell is about as Republican as can be. Yet, even he sees the light.
One-star reviews–an annoying and frustrating reality for authors. Sometimes, but rarely, deserved in the minds of most writers. The advice from seasoned fellow writers is to never engage with the reviewer. Now, there’s a new wrinkle from this article in Time.
Extortion scams!These malefactors threaten to flood Goodreads with one-star reviews of an author’s books unless they pay up.
Money may not be the only issue. The article also says this about the attackers:
[T]hey are frequently targeting authors from marginalized communities who have spoken out on topics ranging from controversies within the industry to larger social issues on social media.
So, does that raise a flag to keep your blog posts “safe” or nonpolitical? I suppose, if had a huge following or high SEO, I might be concerned. As it is, that’s not currently a worry for me. How about you?
My 2021 goal: creating value–bridging America’s political and cultural divide. Easier said than done.
In the SGI-USA, the Buddhist organization I’ve been a member of for 40+ years, this is the Year of Hope and Victory. I’m in with that.
Joe Biden has lots of hope. He accomplished in four months more than Donald Trump did in four years (in my view). But he’s having a hard time fostering bipartisanship in Congress. That’s politics; not the practice of Buddhism–or any other faith.
In 2017, I published a tenth anniversary edition of a memoir Waiting for Westmoreland, the path from Vietnam to enlightenment. The back cover blurb says this:
The book is the true story of a 20th century Candide—an innocent growing up in America in the fifties. As a boy, the author suffers the death of loved ones. Spending a year in Vietnam, with its readily available sex and drugs, thoroughly corrupts his youth. Then the political realities of the war and Watergate shatter his idealistic illusions about America. So, to reclaim his virtue and ideals, he thinks he must reform the people or institutions that failed him.
His quest for the tools of change becomes a frustrating pursuit. Finally, he encounters a person who has the knowledge he needs. She introduces him to the life philosophy of Buddhism, which reveals that the credit or blame for all of life’s events lies within—not from others. Looking for happiness outside oneself is fruitless. Only by taking personal responsibility for one’s own life can one be truly happy. Reforming oneself, not trying to change others, is the means for making the world a better place.
Q: So, why all the politics here on Views from Eagle Peak the last few years?
A: In 13th Century Japan, Nichiren, the founder of the Buddhism I practice said this, “There are not two lands pure and impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.”
Our tagline for Views isSeeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions.
The thing is, there are millions of delusional people out there–members of one of the two major political parties in America. Guess which one.
Are parties analogous to lands? Is delusion evil? Well, not necessarily. But there is one party that exhibits racist behavior–the one once called the Party of Lincoln. The roles of emancipator vs oppressor of minorities have reversed again.
Words do matter. Especially when they’re false—AKA lies.
In recent polls, 70% of Republicans STILL believe Joe Biden didn’t fairly win the 2020 US Presidential Election.Why?
There are two reasons for the belief in the BIG LIE (that the election was stolen from Trump):
Because Trump said so–and they believe HIM.
The echo chambers of consumer choice–right-wing cable, network, web, social media, talk shows, etc. that confirm the false narrative of fraudulent ballots or counting irregularities.
Over the last few decades, the availability of news that reflects the perspectives and biases of the listener/reader/viewer has increased substantially. Why look for objective news that doesn’t match one’s beliefs in reality when one can enter the echo chamber and have opinions or conspiracy theories validated as fact?
When checking the weather, people really want to know what’s expected for that commute, game, trip, etc. It’s annoying, frustrating even, finding that the politician or party one favors is corrupt or not serving one’s interests. BUT it’s as important–if not more so, than knowing whether an ice storm or tornado is coming, that the President is a liar, a cheat, a con man or worse.
Joe Biden won–fair and square. That’s a fact.
As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said (as did others, in subtle variations in wording), “You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts.”
ALLPresidential election results in the 2020 race were certified in each state and territory. Many of those states were controlled by Republican secretaries of state. There were audits and recounts in many states, with no change in the results.
As many as 60 legal challengeswere filed by lawyers associated with Trump. Many of the judges were appointed by Trump himself or former Republican presidents. All but one case was summarily dismissed–the other on a technicality prior to considering the merits.
William Barr and the Trump Department of Justice found no significant fraud in the election either.
The insurrection continues? Yes, it does–just in a new form. The new attack on democracy is on the popular vote itself–not on the results.
The insurrection began with the January 6, 2021, latter day of infamy. The violent attack on America’s Capitol by a mob instigated by Trump himself. White supremacists, conspiracy theorists and a variety of other right-wing groups–Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Boys and more.
The new attack on democracy is directed at future elections. Hundreds of bills passed in Republican led legislatures across America. Bills reducing polling place hours, days to vote, mail-in voting, and much more. All making voting more difficult–for minorities and those more likely to vote for Democrats. The goal: Republican candidates win despite fewer registered voters. AND if the results aren’t to their liking–the legislature can overturn them. That’s called autocracy, not democracy.
At the January 6th insurrection, the Trump mob killed or injured nearly 150 police officers. Millions of people watched on live TV–across mainstream media channels, PBS, cable and more as they stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and defacing historic architecture and artifacts.
Why? To overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election. They set up a noose and chanted to hang Vice-President Mike Pence. Others hoped to kill Nancy Pelosi and kidnap others.
Yet, even as their lives had been at risk, a substantial majority of Republican House members voted to object to certification of Electoral College results–accepting the BIG LIE. Eight Senators acceded to the same falsehood.
We could go on and on about truth versus lies (AKA “alternative facts). Like with the reality of the pandemic versus it being no big thing. The deaths of over 600,000 people seems real. To some, that’s not even a fact.
Back to Buddhism–changing oneself to change the world. Hating those who don’t believe what you believe doesn’t help. They still have a latent state of Buddhahood buried within. Changing political leaders will NOT necessarily make the country safer, healthier, happier or more financially successful–for all.BUT–praying, speaking and acting on the belief of the humanity of the other side is the path to positive results. That, instead of simply condemning or ranting about the racist and autocratic actions of folks on the other.
But make no mistake, American democracy IS at risk. If the laws already passed and the others in process take effect, it will be possible that the results of elections in 2022 and 2024 could be overturned. Legal and political efforts ARE essential.
As a Buddhist, I may pray for good health. But if I have a severe infection or a broken limb, medical intervention is required–not just faith in my religious practice.
Great things have already happened with Biden as President. More improvements are on the way. I have hope that America is turning the page to a brighter and more successful future. But it won’t be without continuing controversy and division. That’s the nature of the times America is in.We must bridge the divide. It WILL take time. We must be patient and determined.
Unlike the last five years, this will be only the second post on politics—the GOP and Trump. Don’t expect another post like this one before the fall–unless political lightning strikes.
In the popular parlance, streaming is now how many people view media content. Not us; not yet anyway. Consciousness streams here in this post
Two months since the last post on Views. An epoch in the blogosphere.
Stuff happens. Like:
Confirmation of occasional AFib after the third incident in two and a half years; Eliquis time–stop taking formerly favorite pills
Rotator cuff surgery for her; shopping, cooking, laundry, etc. for me–and personal assistance to her
Physical therapy for my knee–hey, a future fitness program at the local gym
Yes, growing old is not for sissies. Then there’s the other things like scheduled–and unscheduled home maintenance projects. Puts a kink in the writing schedule. Blogging AND getting out that delayed blog-to-book project.
Oh well, as a self-published writer I have no editor, agent or publisher to deal with.
Joe Biden has accomplished much in just a few months
The Party of NO (AKA, Republicans) oppose or delay in Congress
The insurrection continues in slow motion as Red states throughout America pass legislation to suppress votes and enable themselves to overturn the results of coming elections if not to their liking [more later on that–here or in the Eagle Peak Annual coming later this year]
We ARE determined to help get past the cultural and divides in America. It begins with what Nichiren Buddhists refer to as human revolution. Change from within manifests without.
Don’t blame the politicians for the weather (but get them working on the climate crisis) nor expect them to ensure your happiness and success. Don’t blame THEM (those of other races, religions, ethnicity or sexual orientation) either.
The pandemic is nearly over, but all the unavoidable, unexpected and frustrating obstacles still make planning getaways more than just challenging.
Nature just carries on, despite unfavorable weather–some of the time, in some places. Little or no rain fell in southwestern New Mexico in 2020. Didn’t faze the cacti and the agave. We had at least 50–maybe 60 of the latter bloom this year; the most ever.
The many cholla (another cactus relative) have flowers too. There all volunteers, except for the potted cacti. Coming soon, more reasons to visit Silver City–and maybe some updates on deferred writing project.
I offered only an OK rating of two stars. That’s not to say that this isn’t a well-written book, for the right audience. Walter Isaacson had to have spent an incredible amount of time researching and compiling all the information within it. All those five star ratings and stellar reviews must have come from the right readers who found it great.
This is a science book. Very dense and heavy science. Misled by the many interviews on Walter Isaacson’s book tour, I didn’t realize that I was not among the members of the right audience. I thought this book would spend considerable time (it spent some, just not nearly the amount I expected) on the topics below:
The how and why mRNA and CRISPR were used to create both Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines–and, most importantly, why reluctant people had nothing to fear from them. [I came away unable to find the words with which I could readily allay those fears of others. I had already happily got my shots, taking on faith the review and approval process–not to mention the lack of reports of any serious ill effects of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.]
The ethical quandaries gene editing pose AND the benefits of them for curing diseases. [Yes, looking forward to disease cures but not to enhancements the wealthy will seek for their children].
What then did the book cover?
In excruciating detail, a chronicle of every meeting, conversation, conference and lab experiment, paper submitted/published, patent applied for by hundreds of graduate students, post-docs and more among the biochemists, x-ray crystallographers, structural biologists, engineers, etc., who worked for or under, in competition or collaboration with or supervised Jennifer Doudna enroute to her well deserved Nobel prize that she shared with Emmanuelle Charpentier.
It’s been nearly a week now since the leader of Richard Nixon’s White House Plumbers unit passed away. Many, if not most of you, have heard neither of him nor these plumbers. They had nothing to do with pipes in the White House. They were charged with doing what they could–legal or otherwise, to get Nixon reelected in 1972. As it turned out, he really didn’t need the help; he won by a landslide.
On the other hand, his second term ended early because of their criminal activity–and that of countless top White House staff or cabinet members in trying to cover up their misdeeds. Many of the perps went to jail, including Liddy. Oh, and then there was the tape of conversations between Nixon and those conspirators–that he had installed in the Oval Office–that was the “smoking gun” that the Supreme Court said must be released.
Quite a difference between them and former 45th President Trump. Not nearly as many went to jail–though more still may do so. Nixon pardoned NONE of his criminal conspirators. Trump pardoned most of his. Unfortunately for those who stuck it out to the bitter end of Trump’s unsuccessful effort to reverse the 2020 election results, they didn’t get pardoned and now never will.
But let’s get back to Liddy, who served 4 1/2 years in prison back in the 1970s. Nixon resigned the White House in 1973, when it all came out. He would have been convicted in a Senate trial of impeachment–but it never came to that. The GOP has changed greatly over those decades–giving Trump a free pass, TWICE.
Notably, none of the media I read or watch had any word of Liddy coming to Trump’s aid on January 6th or any time over the four preceding years. One might be excused for thinking he might have followed in Roger Stone’s footsteps (or tattoo of Nixon on his back) working for Trump.
In 2015, we had dueling book reviews here on Views. One of Viktor Frankl’s best selling Man’s Search for Meaning. and one of Liddy’s memoir, Will. I won’t rehash that post; you can read it here.
But, I will repost my review of Liddy’s book, in somewhat sardonic honor of his recent death at age 90.
This has to be one of the most hilarious, surprising and ultimately tragic books I have ever read. Far into the book I remained convinced that Liddy must have been writing a self-deprecating satire of his life just to spite all the liberals, Nixon-haters and antiwar protestors of the Watergate era.
Who would brag about tying himself to a tree in a lightning storm to overcome his fears? Who would describe choosing his spouse in major part for her strong Teutonic stock? Who would extoll many aspects of the Third Reich?
But no, I eventually concluded, he was serious. He really did do all the nutty stuff he described. He really believed all the nonsensical things he professed. He really did all the criminal acts he was charged with and did so proudly–thinking that his self-perceived set of American values superseded the Constitution and the applicable laws. It explains a lot about his behavior during Watergate. That he not only was but still is so deluded is the tragedy. You should read the book, but check it out of the library–don’t buy it.
Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions
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