Tag Archives: Donnie T.

Quote of the Day

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“Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War (5th century BCE)

Even if you haven’t read The Art of War, you’re probably familiar with many of its now-famous axioms, most of which relate to military strategy and tactics, but can be just as easily applied to day-to-day stuff, business, sports, and pretty much everything else in life.

Here are a coupe of other doozies from Sun Tzu (544-496 BCE):

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

Although we have only had an annotated English translatin of The Art of War from its original Classical Chinese since 1910, when Lionel Giles seemed to accomplish the linguistically impossible, its effect on Western culture was immediate and profound.

Sadly, as the American Century – from its entrance onto the word stage as the NKOTB at the tail end of World War I in 1917 to the swearing-in of Donald Trump as President in 2017 – draws to a close, I can’t help but wonder if the current U.S. Commander-in-Chief didn’t perhaps get his Art of War on through the wrong medium, instead using Mr. Snipes as his inspiration to lodge a war with the world.

After watching the goings-on at the White House over the last five months or so, another military strategist I think about is Napoleon Bonaparte, a complex character who could come up with dynamite little quips in a short amount of time, kind of like this one: “Never interupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Indeed, we won’t. After all, who needs any of that phony baloney bread or circus stuff when we’ve got Donnie T. shooting himself in the foot with a mouth-propelled rocket on a daily basis. I’ll tell you who really needs the bagutte and Cirque de Soleil action – the infamous secret agenct, Señor Covfefe of Mexico.

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It’s Only Partially All Doom & Gloom. Sort of.

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Not surprisingly, @TheEconomist published an interesting article last month titled “A sense of dread.” Ooh ooh ooh! the reader says excitedly, head in hands, lunch about to be expelled through their oral cavity, Another Armageddon scenario where we all perish and the world blows up in one final fiery scene that is caught on camera by a distant NASA satellite called CovfefeMyAss. This will represent the sum total of all we have to bequeath future intelligent life years/centuries/millennia from now. No remnants of our scientific achievements, art, or philosophy left for posterity’s sake. Conspicuously, no remnants of us.

WTF? they’ll say when they come upon the footage in this now-rogue satellite spinning out of control somewhere near Andromeda. Doesn’t this remind you of that scene in Star Wars when the Death Star is blown up? one guy will say to his fellow smarter-than-human-beings colleagues.

Ha ha ha, they’ll all respond. Good one, Red Leader! That was funny.

Ah, doom and gloom. Or is it? Is it in fact a Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, or are we merely repeating, ad nauseam, what our forebears have done for time immemorial, which is to do believe what The Economist declares: “There is nothing new in society being gripped by anxiety about the present and pessimism about the future.”

As my mother likes to remind me on a weekly basis, today’s youth is so much more screwed up than the last, what with their ear thingies in their ears and their handphone thingamajigs in their hands as they walk down the street. And why don’t young people have home rotary phones in their homes anymore!

Ha ha ha. Just kidding, Mom. It’s all good.

To return to Economist-like seriousness, though, the above link reviews a book by Richard Overy, a noted World War II historian, and his latest addition to the literary world, a book that focuses on the years between the two wars (1918-1939). It was a time when “the presentiment of impending disaster was even more deeply felt (and perhaps with better reason) than it is today. Indeed, Mr Overy sets out to show that it was a uniquely gloomy and fearful era, a morbid age that saw the future of civilisation in terms of disease, decay and death.”

Let’s step back in history for a moment, shall we? This should be fun. In that 21-year inter-war period, the world saw, in no particular order, the rise of a virulent strain of communism and Marxism, the brutality of the Spanish Civil War, a surge in polio cases throughout developed nations, the introduction to the world stage of winners like Hitler, Mao, Mussolini, Stalin & Franco, the world’s first carpet-bombing campaign carried out on Geurnica, the average life span in rural communities in the richest countries not surpass the average age of death for a well-to-do Greek person 2,000 years earlier, and, of course, the Great Depression.

The list is obviously longer. However, like cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, these are just a few of my JA-inspired favourite things that popped to mind.

Today, inundated as we are by real-time news stories and a constant barrage of images, soundbites, texts, alerts, online posts, emails, retweets, etc., it might truly feel like we are balancing precariously on The Razor’s Edge.

But are we?

For example, what if the poles were to reverse on themselves as a result of global warming? No big deal, says NASA. It’s happened many times over the millennia, naturally, and we’ve lived to talk about it. But what if global warming leads to another glacial epoch similar to the last Ice Age? Well, Homo sapiens appear to have survived with little more than some sticks and stones last go around, so I’d imagine we 21st-century human beings might be able to weather it, as a species, even if millions did perish in the geological catastrophe.

On the other hand, global warming is destroying our ozone layer, which in turn makes it potentially impossible to walk outside with exposed skin one day, a very real health risk, not to mention the melting of polar ice caps, floods, draughts, extreme weather patterns – you get the picture.

There’s also something unique that we have been living with since the Baby Boomer generation that no other civilization in history has had to contend with: the potential to annihilate ourselves in planetary suicide through the use of manmade weapons of mass destruction.

Contrary to what some believe, though, we are still in the midst of the longest era of global peace the world has known since we invented the means to kill each other in greater – and quicker – numbers. We’ve eradicated more diseases in the last century than all of human history put together. Knowledge, education and the sharing of information has never been this affordable, convenient or readily accessible to the masses. Eat your heart out, Gutenberg.

These are the veritable “Doorbells and sleigh bells, And schnitzel with noodles” we should be trying to focus on as we’re pummeled with streaming videos of captives being beheaded in foreign lands, women and girls raped in the name of “religion,” food banks overrun in the biggest cities throughout the “developed” world,  mental health cases spiking everywhere (although this is probably more just the world waking up to its reality and not denying it any longer), and the world’s most powerful Commander-in-Chief seemingly bent on bringing ruin to the planet as expeditiously (that means “promptly or “quickly,” Donnie T.) and with as little covfefe (………………..) as possible.

Long of the short: As much as we love to talk about the doom and gloom drenching us like a cancer with more cancerous cancerness than the last generation, I think it’s time we realize that things may not be quite as covfefe as we tend to think in our dark hours of Trumpian pessimism. As a famous author once said when writing about subjects like War and Peace, “We imagine that as soon as we are thrown out of our customary ruts all is over, but it is only then that the new and the good begins…There is a great deal, a great deal before us. I say that for you.”

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Quote of the Day

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“It was a time when telling fantasies to oneself as well as others, and believing them, was practiced to an incredible degree…A large part of the population was swept into this confused, crazy world. ‘Self-deception while deceiving others’ (zi-qi-qi-ren) gripped the nation.”

Jung Chang, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

I know what you’re thinking: How on Buddha’s still-somewhat-green Earth could Jung Chang have presaged all the way back in 1991 through her book Wild Swans what would happen to the U-nited States of America in 2017? The answer, of course, is that she didn’t; she was writing about growing up in China before, during and after one of the most sinister leaders of the 20th century, Mao Zedong.

Kind of ironic (READ: scare the quills off a porcupine’s balls) that you can read the above passage and say to yourself, Wow! That so captures life today under Donnie T., Spicy Spice and the Grim Reaper.

Lest we forget, though, Jung Chang did a mind-blowing job of capturing 20th-century Chinese history from the perspective of three generations of females in a narrative that is at once memoir, social critique and eyewitness account to one of the most tumultuous eras in modern history.

Mao’s Reign of Terror, which was masked by such euphemistic banners as Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward, was in fact on the same sub-human level as the French Revolution’s real la Terreur, Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution, Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, and Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, to name but a few of the blemishes on civilization’s track record over the last couple of hundred years.

Along with Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, Wild Swans should be mandatory reading for anyone trying to get a handle on where China has come from and where it’s heading in the future.

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Quote of the Day

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“[H]uman consciousness has been reduced to a panicked blur, a zoetrope of galloping despair.”

I love this line! I didn’t even know what on god’s green earth a “zoetrope” was before reading it this morning and I STILL loved it. Awesomeness as its most awesome.

This quote comes from an op-ed by Lindy West in The Guardian yesterday called “The first 25 days of Trump have been a zoetrope of galloping despair.” The preamble is as follows:

Today, during my morning routine of opening my laptop, clicking on literally anything, and just screaming and screaming, I made the astonishing discovery that Donald Trump has only been president of the United States for about three weeks. Which is weird, because I could have sworn we had fallen through a tesseract into the airless crush of a two-dimensional void at least seven eternities ago, or what would have constituted seven eternities if such a place had a linear concept of time. Turns out, though, it has only been 25 days, we are still on earth, and every cell in my body has not been excruciatingly flattened into pure math. It just feels like it.

It’s an understandable mistake, I think. Trump has really been eat-pray-loving his way through his first month as the most dangerous man on earth, seeding so many potential atrocities – including, perhaps, the breakdown of the republic itself – that human consciousness has been reduced to a panicked blur, a zoetrope of galloping despair. There are simply too many emergencies to hold all of them in your mind at once. Cecily Strong captured the feeling on this week’s Saturday Night Live: “Let me just say, you’re doing too much. I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me.”

Spicy Spice might like using dolls to explain things to the media on a certain TV show, but with Donnie T. I think his pictures speak more words than any painter at anytime in history could ever evoke if not for the T.’s sage choice in art.

I’m not really sure what that means exactly, but here goes my poor attempt to capture the essence of it.

This is your brain.

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This is your brain in the Donnie T. era

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