Mr. State Trooper … Please Don’t Stop Me …

Does the president “have Tourette’s”? How close is North Korea moving toward instigating the next world war? And what about those Russians snapping photos of the Oval Office?

Amidst the explication of the day’s news, we received a glimpse of the life and times of Ken West in West’s comments May 16.

Flash back to a 13 year old Kenny West, traversing central VA route 81 by thumb, moving between the homes of his two divorced parents.

According to the tale, a state trooper “came up on” young Kenny, who wore an Afghan jacket and long “hippie hair,” and in the course of an interrogation, rifled through his pockets, finding approximately 10 grams of hashish wrapped in tin foil.

“I told him they were (Hershey’s) kisses,” West said, admitting that the hash did not look like kisses, but could have been some other form of chocolate.

West said after hauling him back to the station, the officer then suddenly let him go. However, on making his way back to his old haunts, West found his load to be a little lighter – by a few grams.

“He took some of my stuff!” West said. “He was a Vietnam vet – he wanted to get high.”

All in all, West conceded, the situation could have turned out worse.

“He was a sweet-heart,” West said of the state policeman. “It was at that time that I decided I wanted to work in intelligence, in the FBI – not to bust people for a little bit of drugs, you understand … to put the real bad guys away, the murderers, the a-holes.”

Unfortunately for West, he said, the minimum height requirement for the academy was five feet eight inches, while at the apex of his growth, West ranged 5’7” – and a half.

“If I’d have been about a half an inch taller,” West said, rather broadly referencing the current state of American democracy, the efficacy of the country’s rule of law, and its ability to weather corruption and kleptocracy, “none of this bullsh-t would have happened.”

 

 

Building the Pyramids

Citing a recent NPR program describing the discovery of multiple sets of bones in North African caves, Ken West says carbon-dated findings from thousands of years ago represent strong indications of the intervention of extraterrestrial life in ancient human affairs.

“It’s way beyond Noah’s ark,” West said, describing the examination of unidentified records from somewhere “near the cradle of civilization” and fossils from the MENA region. “I think they were E.T.”

West theorized that extra-terrestrial life forms from a nearby star made their way through many light years in ships without conventional propellant. “A colony could escape their star.” West said, referring to the plot line of Battlestar Galactica and suggesting a community from well beyond our solar system eventually made its way to Earth, which West affectionately refers to as “the Blue Rose.”

These life forms, he said, ended up mating with humans and assimilating into modern humanity. At the same time, he said, some individual extra-terrestrials have had the ability to arrive on this plant independently, by traveling through the space/time continuum.

West noted theories that suppose extra-terrestrials had contact with ancient Egyptian kings in some way, leading to the creation of immense physical pyramids that would have been difficult to construct within the boundaries of natural human societies of that time.

“Pharaohs were worshipped as Gods,” West said. “This could be a novelette.”

Alluding to Machhu Picchu, which was built much later in the fifteenth century, West described a class of humans or human/extra-terrestrial hybrids who could compel men to build massive stone architectures.

“I don’t think they were the good guys,” West said.

The Egyptian pyramids, he said, were covered with a coating of white limestone, and, like other more modern edifices, looked good when they were new.

“They were like the Washington Monument,” West said. “They were well-kept.”

West also described two distinct classes of laborers involved in pyramid creation: stonemasons and skilled builders near the construction site, and slave laborers largely in quarries.

Of the set of workers who did the finer stone work, West suggested many were farmers who worked on pyramid construction in an idle season.

“They had a time and season,” West said. “They volunteered – it was a national project. They didn’t have cable TV … these guys wanted to get away from their women. All they had was ‘let’s go build something for our god.’”

The larger masses of enslaved workers elsewhere, West conceded, probably did not have any fun at all.

Speaking of the analysis of the stone work at Macchu Picchu, West said the refined nature of the work indicates a mysterious origin, most likely, the hand of a non-human civilization.

“(Macchu Picchu) was a fortress against large numbers of humanoids,” West said.

A gold reserve buried under the site, West said, was eventually looted.

“We’ve had a lot of gold stolen from us over the years,” West said, suggesting extra-terrestrial miners have prized the element for its unique conductivity and atomic properties.

West, who has often characterized himself as a Non-Orientated Sexual Humanoid or NOSH, declined to comment further on ideas about alien intervention that he plans to develop into a “full length feature film.”

“I am coy.” West said.

A New Rat Trap!!

Ken West’s rodent trap is back, and it’s bigger than ever.

In this vintage video from the “early oughts” – we see a younger, scrappier West explaining in detail his revolutionary mousetrap design for Matteus Frankovich somewhere in downtown Charlottesville, VA.

Now, West wants to sell an oversized version of this trap, for rats, to municipalities.

“They’re infesting our world.” West said of the rats. “We don’t want them to **** in our food anymore.”

While the initial design was a live trap, West has now re-engineered the design to  look more like this:

He also describes a “death chamber” for the rats based on their descent into a sequence of holes.

The current plan, West says, is to present the design to both the Paul Newman Foundation and the Gates Foundation. After listening to Bill Gates on NPR, West believes that this is the kind of solution the philanthropist is looking for.

“Every day, it has to be picked up and eliminate the rats.” West says. “I’m a genius. I am. I’m sure this will work.”

A Prayer for Moon Jae-In

 

What’s happening on the Korean peninsula?

Those of us observing the situation from the other side of the world can’t be exactly sure. However, impending elections in South Korea appear to be changing the calculus on a diplomatic crisis that had many Americans quite worried.

In recent weeks, the American media cycle had allocated many thousands of hours of coverage to talking heads dissecting diplomatic gridlock from all angles: how six party talks might not be possible or yield further resolution, how our only hope is to hang on China, how Trump’s word could escalate a situation already hanging like the sword of Damocles above our collective vision of mutually assured destruction.

Now, South Korean candidate Moon Jae-In appears to be a vehicle of international hope, that perhaps the North and the South can contribute to solving the conflict which has spun so far beyond their borders.

A May 5 Reuters piece herald’s Jae-in’s arrival to prominence, citing efforts to re-open the Kae-Song Industrial Zone and pursue “Sunshine Policy” with the North.

At least one shade-tree political analyst in the United States believes the U.S. owes Jae-In a word of gratitude, and a prayer of enabling, for doing something that he feels America should have done weeks ago.

Itinerant carpenter and political scholar Ken West has been alerting the Charlottesville, VA community about the threat of nuclear war for the past two months, suggesting that food aid and a white flag of peace could prevent cataclysm in Korea. Now, he interprets current NPR reports as assertions that Jae-Ins government is poised to solve a diplomatic problem with “rice balls and $20 bills,” the very same fodder that he has repeatedly advised peacemakers to deliver to the impoverished North Koreans.

While admitting such a move could be seen as a provocation by the North if done by American planes, West has nevertheless been vocally persistent in his efforts to persuade Americans that such a message of love and peace is crucial to their survival. Now, he sees the South Korean candidate as having the potential to deliver that message and save the world.

A Novel Idea for North Korea

Amid all of the tense reports from Pyongyang and Washington D.C., people are wondering: what’s next for Korea?

The big debate in a lot of bars, living rooms and conference halls is whether the flailing of national governments and impulsive figureheads will simply over-escalate and get us into a new World War, which, as seasoned military experts concur, will not yield any real winners.

Or will diplomacy, favored by the establishment, win the day?

One Charlottesville, VA resident offers a third possibility.

Local activist and theology scholar Kenneth A. West suggests that instead of dropping tactical nukes, the more effective solution would be to drop food.

West believes that the private sector, in the form of the Gates Foundation or other philanthropic offices, might seize on this idea, if persuaded of its viability by the people at large.

Where the federal government has consistently relied on weaponry to advance American interests abroad, West contends that food aid will work better: the ideal situation, he says, would be to drop “nice food” with a selection of pamphlets including the slogan “we love you.”

It’s a nice thought, but not one that jibes with the will of the U.S. military industrial complex. What do you think?

GOOFBALL IN CHARGE

These are real words that sober and responsible journalists are reporting after another blistering day of GOP macho crap dressed up and paraded around as policy.

Yes, that perennial genius of Texas, Rick Perry, is auditioning for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to get that brass ring, the job of Secretary of Energy, in a circus of un-professionals so wild it’s making a lot of us a little dizzy.

By now, most people understand the irony of Perry putting in for a job that he so famously recommended doing away with in the past. Turns out his “oops” moment was actually an “oops” in more ways than one!

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Rick Perry told the committee. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

(Insert great sigh of relief here.) Well – he’s cleared all of that up, then.

Shouldn’t this very idea be worthy of a resounding middle finger from a legislature and a constituency fed up with the bullshit? How goofball can you get? About fifteen years from now, we’ll have Scooby-Doo as Secretary of Education, A tele-tubby as Secretary of Energy, and a dirty Kid Rock t-shirt as Secretary of State.

Seriously. It’s one thing to insist that an “applicant” for one of these important federal jobs doesn’t need to have any experience in the field at all, that in fact, he or she can actually be some boot-licking loyalist with a few bucks to throw around – but shouldn’t recommending the abolition of a department disqualify you from that particular one?

Not in this world, the new one we all fell into just now when we, uh, miscalculated the electorate.

Do those glasses make him look any smarter?

When they talk about “not normalizing” this administration, this is one of the things they’re talking about. We can’t abandon professionalism in chase of some crazy shiny unicorn populism or we’ll wake up a couple of years later and realize we squandered everything we had going for us.

SMFH.

Should I Throw Out My Thanksgiving Leftovers? It’s a Values Thing

Yesterday, I came across an interesting little PSA on my Facebook feed, put out by some generic, anodyne party sorted by the platform’s algorithm.

It had a picture of a turkey leg, and the following caption: “Throw Out Your Thanksgiving Leftovers!”

It also cited the U.S. government’s food safety web site, backed by whatever agency provides guidance there, maybe the CDC or the USDA.

Hmm… I thought. What a nice little PSA helping people not to get sick.

Then I read the comments section.

And I realized something.

“Throw out good food?” posted one commenter. “Hell no! I’m gonna keep eating this stuff! It’s still good! You work hours to make it, and then you throw it away? How crazy is that?”

Other posts were more supportive of the notion that after 4 or 5 days in the refrigerator, the turkey really isn’t safe to eat anymore. But some of the posters seemed really worked up about the issue, even throwing in some of the same language you see on threads about climate change, or immigration, or the ACA. That’s “Obamacare” for you non-policy wonks.

This, plus a few other conversations I’ve had with friends in this wild, wooly post-electoral holiday season, have suggested that in the end, facts don’t matter much anymore. It’s a values thing.

Either you’re going to proudly support the food safety standards put forth by the scientists who were hired to create them, or you’re going to loudly deride their services. The CDC? What the hell do they know?

You can’t prove this turkey’s going to make me sick.

You can’t prove that a Muslim won’t injure me on the subway.

You can’t prove that a Mexican won’t take a job that could have been filled by some hard-working fourth-generation guy of largely European ancestry who’s down on his luck, in that stagnant wage environment that has bred so much of this anger and misguided electoral bomb-throwing in the first place.

You can’t prove a whole lot of things.

And science?

You can choose to accept the scientific facts that are handed to you, or not. There’s a whole lot of distrust out there. You might think there’s too much corporate money in science. Or you might just think you know better than some guy in a lab coat.

But values…

Now that’s something you can count on.

One important litmus test of your values is how you view the generational relationship between parents and kids.

I read a piece last year about the difference between right and left values when it comes to children: the author suggested, quite astutely I thought, that in simplifying the difference in values, it came down to two different polar values. On the left, the value is that the child is supported and feels confident and capable of realizing his or her potential. On the right, it’s the value that a child will have respect for authority.

Not respect for other people, necessarily. That’s not how this author put it. Respect for authority.

A concrete result of this value: children should say “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” to adults. This value is an age-old one, revolving around respect for elders. It’s not something I disagree with, but it’s something that can have a corrosive effect, to me, if it is placed before certain other values.

To those who are on the other side of the divide, my prioritizing of the confidence and self-esteem value can be dangerous. What if children abuse these supports or freedoms?

To me, it’s a “fact” that many of the same people so loudly advocating for more corporal punishment in schools are also very concerned about getting the border closed and vetting immigrants. That’s where all of this starts to come together.

It’s not necessarily that we have opposing values. We have overlapping values. It’s that in the prioritization of those values, we are creating opposing belief systems.

To those who hold the polar view opposite mine, my leniency on the principle of respect for authority and respect for one’s elders erodes key components on the social fabric that they want. But to me, their leniency on values like universal protections for women and children cuts the other way, pretty deeply, to the point that most of what they are saying starts to sound like garbage to me. I’m going to be honest about that.

But this kind of polarization can start with anything. It can start with thanksgiving leftovers. Complain to me loudly enough that people tell you not to eat old meat, and I’ll start to tune you out. I’ll start citing “facts” about food safety. We can argue about the number of days, we can argue about who works at the CDC.

But I digress. The problem, I guess, comes when we build opposing political parties, news networks and other infrastructure to further define these opposing belief systems, instead of trying to bring them together and preserve some parts of them in a compromise.

There you have big goals: rebuild a coherent moderate national press. Bring independent politicians into the mainstream so that people of those two different worlds can maybe agree on a candidate once in a while.

Can it happen? Who knows.