416. "Cosmic Grunt / Betsy DeVos"
- Open Mic Poetry/Prose Té Café, Pittsburgh, us@
- Wednesday, February 8, 2017EV, early evening
- I'd decided to read something for this before I knew what the theme was: "Let's make America great again by taking a stand against bigotry, sexism & fascism - by celebrating & coming together through our diversity" - in other words, an alternative to the Kleptocracy of the Plunderbund that is the Rump administration. I'd written 2 texts just a few days before: "Cosmic Grunt" & "Betsy DeVos". I read "Cosmic Grunt" in its entirety. It was a challenge because I was trying to both articulate the 400 words in such a way that they were both udnerstandable but also at least a little grunt-like - which involved trying to run them all together. In the interest of reading both pieces in less than the 10 minute limit, I skipped over the DeVos intro because everyone seemed to know who she was. In the presentation of the text below, I include the entire intro.
- tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - February 6, 2017
I've been working on my 'opera' for the last year. It's entitled "Endangered Languages, Endangered Cultures, Endangered Ideas". As part of my research for the libretto for this, I read a book by Daniel Nettle & Suzanne Romaine entitled Vanishing Voices - The Extinction of the World's Languages. In this, they state that:
"The extinction of languages is part of a larger picture of worldwide near total ecosystem collapse. Our research shows quite striking correlations between areas of biodiversity and areas of highest linguistic diversity, allowing us to talk about a common repository fo what we will call "biolinguistic diversity": the rich spectrum of life encompassing all the earth's species of plants and animals along with human cultures and their languages. The greater biolinguistic diversity is found in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples, who represent around 4 percent of the world's population, but speak at least 60 percent of the world's languages."
I'm in the midst of writing a review of this book & one thing led to another & I ended up quoting the great Irish comic writer Flann O'Brien. An edited version of this quote is as follows:
"A lady lecturing recently on the Irish language drew attention to the fact that, while the average English speaker gets along with a mere 400 words, the Irish-speaking peasant uses 4,000."
"The plight of the English speaker with his wretched box of 400 vocal beads may be imagined when I say that a really good Irish speaker would blurt out the whole 400 in one cosmic grunt."
I was so inspired by this that I decided to take the top 400 British English words as compiled by Brian Kelk based on 29 works of literature by 18 authors (4.6 million words) in order starting from the most frequently used & to read them as "one cosmic grunt":
- written by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE, February 6, 2017
I'm sure everyone here knows who Betsy DeVos is, she's the Great Dictator's nominee for education secretary. As with most or all of Trump's nominees her only qualification for this position seems to be that she's a billionaire &, therefore, willing to pull as many fast deals as possible while in her position. She's also a supporter of private Christian schools & we can say bye-bye to the separation of church & state if she gets in power. But never let it be said that I'm not willing to fact-check from time-to-time. Here's what Snopes.com, the rumor-checking website, has to say about the accusations against DeVos:
True. DeVos (born Elizabeth Prince) is the daughter of the late Edgar Prince, a wealthy industrialist, sister of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater USA, and wife of Dick DeVos, entrepreneur and heir to the fortune of Amway founder Richard DeVos, valued at about $6 billion."
Amway is, of course, a pyramid scheme, a scheme based on leaving the losers holding the bag at the bottom of the hierarchy. Perfect for a Trump appointee!
"Donated $9.5 million to Trump's campaign?
"No education degree?
True. DeVos does have a degree, just not in education; she graduated from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a bachelor's degree in business administration and political science."
"No experience working in a school environment?
"Never attended public school or state university?
"Never put her own children in public school?
"Does not believe in or support public education?
"Believes that public school teachers are overpaid?
"Supports for-profit education?
"Invested $200 million in Christian schools and organizations?
Undetermined. Through their nonprofit organization, the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, Betsy and her husband have given tens of millions of dollars to a great many schools and organizations, some of which are identified as "Christian." For 12 years running, for example, the foundation donated between $200,000 and $300,000 annually to Potter's House, a nonprofit "Christ-centered" elementary school serving underprivileged children in Grand Rapids, Michigan."
"Doggedly advocates funneling money out of public education and into for-profit, Christian-based education?
Partly true. As noted above, DeVos has long been an advocate for "school choice," which does involve, to some extent, funneling money away from public schools and toward private educational options, including for-profit and Christian-based schools."
But what really got me was DeVos's statement regarding guns in schools. As an NBC article online informed me: "President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary told lawmakers at her confirmation hearing that guns might have a place in schools due to the threat from grizzly bears." That's what tipped me off that just because she's a billionaire whose money is rooted in inherited wealth doesn't mean she's out of touch with reality. I mean, that's when I knew that we're dealing with a major intellect here.
Not wanting to be outdone by Betsy DeVos in the area of good ideas for guns & children, on January 21, the day after the Dictator enthroned himself, I posted this humble proposal on Facebook so that every surveillance organization in the US would be immediately aware of my idea:
"Hhmm.. I'm thinking that all fetuses should be REQUIRED BY LAW to purchase handguns to hold in the womb so that when they come out as babies they'll be ready to shoot any & all comers. If abortion is made illegal this law will at least increase survival-of-the-fittest casualties & help keep the population down. The tendency of midnight specials to misfire will help insure that the poor continue to lose."
But I'm not sure that that's going far enough. SO, on February 6th, I posted another proposal on Facebook for the NSA to consider:
"I'm not so worried about the bears as I am about the dinosaurs. This country needs to be prepared for a thawing of hitherto undiscovered cryogenically preserved raptors & the like. This thawing won't be because of Global Warming, of course, since we know that's a myth conceived of by people adverse to the American Way (or is it the American Weight?). Anyway, the underacknowledged raptor-menace justifies taking money from public schooling taxes & buying RPGs for nursery school children. I don't mean to suggest that taxpayers should actually PAY for this, I just mean that the arms dealers should get the tax-payer's money. The nursery school children will have to sign IOUs for the weapons - thusly teaching them adult responsibilties at an early age & making sure they'll be permanently in debt to whatever front companies DeVos &/or her cronies may have investments in."
Given that DeVos hasn't proposed such obvious options, I think that she's a namby-pamby liberal & ought to be rejected.
There's a movie of this too here: https://vimeo.com/203362094 . The light showing behind my head has beeen delibereately tweaked in post-production.
- March 6, 2017 notes from tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
417. Reading from "Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory)"
- Open Mic Poetry/Prose Té Café, Pittsburgh, us@
- Wednesday, March 8, 2017EV, early evening
- After 5 years of research I wrote "Paradigm Shift Knuckle Sandwich & other examples of P.N.T. (Perverse Number Theory)" in the 1st 6 weeks of 2008. I gave a reading from it at the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC on November 1, 2008 (The entire reading can be heard online @: Segue at the Bowery Poetry Club, NYC <http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Segue-BPC.html> (scroll down to the appropriate mp3).) For various reasons, the book lay unpublished until I decided to publish it myself 9 years later. As of this reading, I now had a defective proof for it & I was waiting for a box of corrected copies of the book to be delivered. Given that I had retired & had begun living on a tiny fixed income, the extravagance of publishing the book might very well be the last such extravagance of my life.
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