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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Buttocks, a Puzzlement and News from the Third World

On Buttocks

In some religions, lusting after a woman is as much of a sin as actually committing an act of adultery.  The act committed in one’s mind is little different from the act itself. Fortunately, I do not follow that line of reasoning.

The other day I was standing in a checkout line in a Target store behind a trim woman probably in her thirties.  She might have attended some sort of gymnastics, yoga or aerobics group earlier in the day because she was wearing skin tight work-out pants, accenting a pair of shapely buttocks, which I could not avoid but noticing. Can you blame me for that?   With all the news these days about men taking advantage of women, butt-grasping seems to be a common type of such harassment.  But there is nothing new about it.  Read on.  The ancient Greeks probably indulged in it.

Years ago, I was chased to the dictionary when a review of a Broadway show concluded that “the only appealing thing about the show were its 'callipygian' chorus girls.”  Whoa!  Never saw that word before. And there it was, defined in the Merriam-Webster as coming from the Greek and meaning “having shapely buttocks.”  The Greeks had a word for it!  Stop and think about that for a second.  Buttocks are still just buttocks, the fleshy area behind one’s hips, regardless of what they look like.  There's no functional difference between ugly buttocks and pretty ones.  Either kind provide nice cushions when one sits down. But, as soon as some kind of value judgement is applied to them, however, it’s an entirely different story. 

Calling them “shapely” (running back to the dictionary again), means among other things, being “pleasing.”  Pleasing to whom, I ask?  Well, the pleasure derived from seeing callipygian buttocks (I guess that's a redundancy) would seem to be derived from one’s sexual drive, and the follow up action to being pleased by them, if that drive were not well controlled, would be to attempt to grasp them.   

I have even seen woman’s shorts with hand prints covering their portions fitting over the buttocks, inviting their being grasped.  It may be intended humorously by the wearer, but others might view it differently. 

Among us are some people whose sexual drive is not well controlled, and who are in a position to get away with doing whatever they want.  None other than Donald J. Trump, on live TV, famously said  “And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.  Grab them by the p... " 
And this, my friends, is the core of the problems we are having with men making unwanted, harassing, sexual advances toward women.  They are unable to control their sexual drive and sometimes are in a position to get away with it, that is until now, when finally most men have come to realize that the women they violate are no longer afraid to speak up.

The woman in front of me in the Target check-out line is fortunate that it was well-controlled me standing behind her and not Donald Trump or any of the other miscreants in the headlines lately.

Is a Puzzlement

I am puzzled.  Though they both have (sort of) retracted it, Secretary of State Tillerson called the President a moron and National Security Adviser Masterson called him an idiot.  We know what Senators Flake and Corker think of him and recognize that many, if not most, other Republicans are of like mind, and are only loyal to him because of his appeal to the gullible Republican base, necessary for their re-election. There is other evidence that Donald Trump, while a great pitchman and putter-together of deals, isn’t very bright.  Ask the ghost writer who penned “The Art of the Deal” for him. Listen to Trump when he speaks “off the cuff” or when he sends out his early morning “tweets.”  Last week, he chastised Roy Moore’s opponent as a liberal, soft on crime, weak on the military and not committed to the Second Amendment.  None of this was true, but it was what our nation’s pitchman thought it best to say at the moment, ignoring the fact that his words were lies.  Does anyone really believe he really understands world trade, how our economy works and the art of governance, despite the words he mouths? Listen to how repetitive his words often are, and how he depends on embellishing them with grand-sounding adjectives, attempting to compensate for their lack of substance.

Looking back six decades, I recall that teenagers who went off to military academies did so because they had problems in the regular public schools. Those who could afford it who left the public schools usually chose one of the many fine private “prep” schools around, but not the military academies. These “prep” schools (Phillips Exeter, Groton, Pingry, etc.) were available to him and the public high schools in Queens, where Trump lived, were excellent too, but instead, he was sent off to a military academy for his secondary education.  I wonder why.  Many military academy graduates go on to regular military careers and some even enter West Point or Annapolis. Not Donald. He never even served in the military, repeatedly getting medical deferments.  Trump went on to Fordham University and the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate work.  The business courses he took as his major at Pennsylvania were offered by their Wharton School, something in which he takes great pride, since it associates him with one of the nation’s finest Business schools.  But I doubt that he has a Wharton degree.

And here is the puzzle.  With this not particularly distinguished background, Trump entered the real estate development field, working with his millionaire father.  That wasn’t too difficult, and when he went out on his own, it was with a sizable amount of money provided by Fred Trump.   And he succeeded.

The real estate development business, especially in New York City (Fred Trump’s fortune was made in the outer boroughs; Donald chose to operate in Manhattan) is highly competitive and is populated by some of the shrewdest, most clever, and occasionally the most dishonest, businessmen in the world.  This is the arena Donald Trump entered with the stake his father had given him.  By all rights, judging by what we have seen from his performance as President, he should have been an immediate failure.  It would be like a little league team attempting to play against the World Series champs.  But he succeeded.  That is the puzzle.

The way I see it, Trump made sure to connect himself with advisers and politicians far smarter than he was, people like Roy Cohn and others who might operate on the fringes of legitimacy.  His venture into the casino business, in which underworld connections existed until only recently, should have failed sooner than it did.  Depending on the advice and assistance of others, despite repeated corporate bankruptcies, he managed to build a name for himself, which turned out to be the primary product he has spent the last twenty years selling.  And this has proven to be profitable, except that it left his name attached to some less than savory enterprises in terms of domestic and international financing as well as in regard to the people with whom he did business.

Usually, when one's success is hinged to others, there usually is a "quid pro quo" involved.  Trump provided a name for others to use, and got paid for it.  If he developed a project on his own, he shortly sold it, but left his name on it, of course, for a price.  But early in the game, how much was his name worth?  Perhaps his earliest advisers dealt with him on the strength of his father's wealth and reputation.  Certainly, I doubt if Trump, totally on his own, would have been a success.  But he never was, I suspect, totally on his own.  There were always "others," either advising him or using his name on their ventures.  This is part of the puzzle.

His latest sale was his lending his name to the Republican Party.  Not a Republican, nor even really understanding the difference between Republicans and Democrats, he became their Presidential candidate, dragging Republicans into office behind him all over the country.  Looking past his time in office, I am sure he figured it would be good for his family’s business.  After all, his children really don’t know very much about real estate development, and really, he never did either, but he can’t be surpassed as a pitchman, a snake oil salesman and someone to make the gullible believe.   And so long as there are gullible people out there, the will be Donald Trumps to take advantage of them.  Just wait and see the response to whatever pitches he makes once the forty-fifth President is out of office.  They will be huge!  Unbelievably, unimaginably HUUUUGE! Or at least, I suspect, he anticipates they will be.

But as for me, I am still puzzled about how this has happened in the United States of America.  Are you?
Jack Lippman

Knocking Florida

I enjoy living in Florida.  It is a wonderful place for retirement.  But one should not expect it to be like any of the more civilized states elsewhere it the county.   Because most of the majority of its intelligent residents are concentrated in a few South Florida counties (Dade, Monroe, Broward, Palm Beach) and along the I-4 corridor (Tampa and Orlando), they have little impact on what goes on in the State Legislataure, which is dominated by conservative country-bumpkins and dim-witted Republicans, making Florida a third-world kind of place on a level with Mississippi or Alabama.  

Case in point:  A few years back the legislature enacted a law saying that anyone could lodge a protest regarding textbooks used in Florida’s public schools.  If someone felt that a book was objectionable, their complaint was sent to the School District involved where a decision as to its propriety was made by the School Board.  Usually the complaints were about evolution, science, climate change, sexual innuendo, foul language or what might be taken to be pornographic.

But that wasn’t good enough for the current version of Florida’s country-bumpkin legislature!   The law was changed so that instead of the complaint being heard by School Boards, they went into mediation, where the elected Board has far less influence and the complainer, however "far-out," is given the status of legitimacy.  And mind you, one need not have a student in the public schools to lodge a complaint.  Anyone can do it.  And they are doing it.  

They're going after authors with whom they disagree in the same manner the Church, back in 1633, went after Galileo who believed the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa (along with many of the "real" scientists of his day).  Incidentally, and it is a sign of progress, only a small percentage of Floridians still believe the sun revolves around the earth because they see it come up every morning and go down every night.  Some are in the State Legislature.

The latest schoolbook complaint is about Ray Bradbury’s “Farenheit 451” which appeared on a high school reading list and which deals with the danger of the state getting involved with censorship of books.  My, what a coincidence.

But this is Florida, which looks good on the outside but is internally rotten.

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