Feets and Feats

tmp_2290_4-21-2014_110059_-1My  wife seems to be having the beginning symptoms of dementia.   Thank God she’s not anywhere near a drooling, muttering creature that some might portray.  But she is also not the vivacious, dynamic administrator of a large social service organization; not the woman she used to be.
And I…   …   …I am not the man I used to be, without her.  Without her!!  The thought trickles down my mind like a sliver of ice on an blazingly hot desert afternoon.  My shoulder muscles wink together in migraine pain.  Emotional brain-freeze.  I laugh too much; to keep from…   …   …I won’t it say out loud, for fear of what you must already know I’m trying not to express.
We met in Brooklyn, NY, in 1957:  teen-age lovers who went through high school and college together; though continents apart she at East Los Angeles College, (which actually is located on Brooklyn Avenue) and I at Brooklyn College-City University of New York.  I don’t know how to live without her.  And she’s fading away.  Not that anybody notices.  But I notice.  And my daughters notice.
Now we live in a “retirement community” which is not meant to be a prison, but is a prison nonetheless.  A prison of broken people, too tired to die, but without the energy to fully live.
The situation is too complex to describe fully today.  But, little by little, I’ll describe it to you.  I’ll describe it to you from my wheelchair, from our little room, which I am now going to leave for a moment, and contemplate my new world; to see what new opportunities await me. If any!!   If you remember my story, I’ve been dead before (not metaphorically;  but ACTUALLY!!) so anything I now accomplish is a death-defying feat.  So “Feets; don’t fail me now”!!!
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The Present Stability of Putin’s ‘Sistema’

Russian and Eurasian Politics

photo putin tradition

by Gordon M. Hahn

Although 2016 will be a challenging year for Russia’s political stability, there is little likelihood the country will experience serious political tremors. The worst case scenario is a something akin to the demonstrations of winter 2011-2012 in the wake of the September Duma elections. A perfect storm is over the horizon but is still distant (2019) and can be avoided in the mid-term or at least delayed into President Vladimir Putin’s fourth term (2018-2024). Political stability will depend on two political factors: the unity of the ruling elite and the non-mobilization of society.

Despite the challenges that Russia’s already mid-length economic crisis has posed for currency reserves, state enterprise income, budget revenues and political patronage, Putin’s so-called ‘sistema’ retains sufficient resources for the near-term in order to maintain political unity through the year. Most fundamentally, according to Russia’s Central Bank, if Russia’s sovereign funds continue to…

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Russia’s Central Asian Worries Grow | RealClearWorld

Russia’s Central Asian Worries GrowBy Samuel BendettAugust 10, 2016Select LanguageRussian internet daily Lenta.ru recently published an analysis on why Russia is and will remain concerned about various threats emanating from the underbelly of the former Soviet region — Central Asia. Says the article:”Russian military and security officials generally do not like the Central Asian region, since it is the main sources of military threats for Russia, and no effective countermeasures to these threats exist to this day.  “The main type of military threat to Russia is diffused guerrilla operations generated by an explosion of religious extremism, an explosion which would be almost inevitable after a hypothetical failure of one or several of the Central Asian regimes.” The analysis lists other potential headaches for Russian military and policy planners. These include Russia’s long and still largely indefensible border with Kazakhstan, as well as the difficulty of trying to influence the situation in the region if crisis escalates in any of the Central Asian “stans.” The analysis confirms that Russian troops in Tajikistan, and its aircraft deployed at the Kant airbase in Kyrgyzstan, are able to intervene in the fight against armed extremists at the request of the legitimate regional governments, but “if such a war is accompanied by political crises (and even revolutions), the room for military maneuvers becomes very limited.”Says Lenta.ru:”Security weakness in the Central Asian countries, which are increasingly penetrated by a radical form of Islam and by international terrorist networks, will lead to a condition where serious resistance to the radical Islamic threat can be made only on the Russian-Kazakh border — and the length and penetration of this border does not grant Russian policy planners any additional optimism.” Nor would the hypothetical introduction of Russian military forces in the region bode well for such a crisis — such a move might lead to a whole set of “purely internal Russian problems, ranging from popular discontent with such a move to placing Russian forces in the poorly equipped and logistically difficult region of Eurasia.”The analysis singles out a couple of terrorist attacks in Kazakhstan in June and July — in Aktobe, where 17 people were killed, and in Almaty, where an attack resulted in law enforcement and civilian casualties. “What if next time (and there is no reason to believe that these are the last events of this kind), the planning and execution of an attack is on a qualitatively different level? Will the Kazakh security forces be up to the task?”Moving south, the analysis identifies a major long-simmering source of conflict — the Fergana Valley, where the many conflicts of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan intertwine — these states have shared the valley since the creation of the Soviet Union. The valley, Lenta.ru reminds us, is a “transport hub, an aggregator of drug trafficking from the southern regions, and a place where trouble smolders at the surface — there are ethnic conflicts between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, and interstate troubles due to water ownership.” Hinting at Moscow’s preference for strong autocratic regimes in Central Asia capable of controlling internal tensions, the analysis points out that “any significant weakening of the political regimes in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan may cause an explosion of local dissent, provoked by religious and ethnic extremists – as happened in 1999 during the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan crisis.”The analysis concludes that growth of internal tensions in these states could lead to weak governments exporting instability through war, and it recommends Moscow undertake various projects in the former Soviet space to manage the situation. Despite changes in the level of Moscow’s involvement in Central Asia due to economic and geopolitical pressures elsewhere, it is to be expected that Russia will continue its range of security, political, and economic relationships with Central Asian states through bilateral and multilateral ties it has been strengthening since the dissolution of Soviet Union.

Source: Russia’s Central Asian Worries Grow | RealClearWorld

As the Russian army would react to destabilize the neighbor: Armed forces: Security forces: Lenta.ru

On the southern borders of Russia continues to escalate the situation. Traditional terrorist threats and the dangers of political turmoil in Central Asia, and formed in 2014 the tension zone at the border with Ukraine Add riots in Armenia and incipient destabilization in Turkey. What are the challenges is preparing the Russian army, it appears “to Lenta.ru.”Military threat number oneThe Russian military and security forces generally do not like to Central Asia. This region – the first place in the list of the main sources of military threats to Russia. A counter opportunities in this direction is practically no.The main type of military threat – naturally diffuse guerrilla generated by the explosion of religious extremism, which is almost inevitable in the conditions of a hypothetical fall of one or several of the Central Asian regimes.The border with Kazakhstan is not equipped, to influence the situation in the region in case of an uncontrolled escalation of the situation will not be possible. Russian troops in Tajikistan, as well as aircraft deployed on the Kyrgyz airbase Kant, able to intervene in the fight against armed extremists at the request of the legitimate governments, but if war is accompanied by political crises (and even revolutions), the room for maneuver is very limited.The weakness of the security in the Central Asian countries, which are increasingly penetrating a radical form of Islam and international terrorist networks, will lead to the fact that the only serious resistance “bogeyman” can have only on the Russian-Kazakh border. And its length and permeability does not add optimism.Or – to introduce Russian troops into the region. This, in turn, will cause a whole set of purely internal Russian problems, ranging from popular discontent and ending binding valence bodied compounds in poorly-equipped central region of Eurasia.The sight KazakhstanIn recent months, the situation worsened in Kazakhstan, which though was not an island of stability in Central Asia, but, at least, the impression of the most advanced and managed state in the region.RELATED CONTENT21:02 June 5, 2016The terrorist act of irresponsibilityAs extremists attacked Kazakhstan AktyubinskFifth of June in Aktobe several terrorist groups, robbing weapon shops, carried out an armed attack on police stations and the territory of the military unit. Killing seven people and injuring forty. Kazakh Interior Ministry described the attackers as “radical adherents of non-traditional religious movements’, which clearly shows their connection with cross-border structures extremist Islamists.July Eighteenth shot in the Alma-Ata. Attack undergone District Department of Internal Affairs and National Security Committee, killing three policemen. And once again reported “radical adherents of non-traditional religious movements.”RELATED CONTENT13:40 July 18, 2016shot uniformsWho is behind the armed attack on security forces in AlmatyIt is impossible not to note the amateurish approach of militants to both terrorist attacks. The more questions to the Kazakh law enforcement bodies. What if the next time (and there is no reason to believe that this is the last event of this kind) planning and management of an attack would be a qualitatively different level? Will the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan colors in the scale of the terrorist threat to describe what is happening?Fergana nodeKazakh problems, however, should not distract from the much more long-time host of heavy conflict in the region. It’s about the Ferghana Valley, where many diverse intertwined conflicts Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.This region was created in order to become the detonator of the whole of Central Asia. Fergana – this transport hub, and aggregator of drug trafficking from the south, then smolder and ethnic conflicts, and interstate – because of the water.RELATED CONTENT00:07 May 11, 2016Wild Field threatsWith what face can the National Guard under RussiaAny significant weakening of the political regimes in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, is fraught with a local explosion, provoked by extremists performance – as has already happened in 1999 by the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.”We should not forget that the growth of domestic contradictions able to push any weak government on the “export of instability” in the form of war. This should theoretically damped “political management” of Moscow in the framework of its directed integration projects in the former Soviet space.Belt expandsThe situation is complicated by the fact that the zone of political instability at the borders of Russia clearly does not intend to be limited to Central Asia, which has even indecently called the “soft underbelly” (so it is overwritten metaphor).We have to mention the whole belt of instability. It is difficult otherwise to perceive what is happening in the South Caucasus (Armenia riots), Turkey with its unsuccessful military coups (accompanied by a massive “folk festiva

Source: As the Russian army would react to destabilize the neighbor: Armed forces: Security forces: Lenta.ru

Ode to Healing – Part One

John Updike

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A scab
is a beautiful thing — a coin
the body has minted, with an invisible motto:
In God We Trust.
Our body loves us,
and, even while the spirit drifts dreaming,
works at mending the damage that we do.
That heedless Ahab the conscientious mind
drives our thin-skinned hull onto the shoals;
a million brilliant microscopic engineers below
shore up the wound with platelets,
lay down the hardening threads of fibrin,
send in the lymphocytes, and supervise
those cheery swabs, the macrophages, in their clean-up.
Break a bone, and fibroblasts
knit together the blastema in days.
Catch a cold, and the fervid armies
swarm to blanket our discomfort in sleep.
For all these centuries of fairy tails poor men
butchered each other in the name of cure,
not knowing an iota of what the mute brute of body knew.

— Continued —

For further reading:
Updike The Jew

 


A Life In Fragments

Fragment ManI’ve been writing living my life in disconnected fragments.   I’m whiplashed.  Thrown back and forth like Freddy Grey of Baltimore infamy.  No flow:  tried to express things so primitive, so primeval, so…   …   …Neanderthal utterances; grunts and growls, would sound right at home in my screaming painfulness.   There are no words…   … …before there were words, there was the pain.  Nine point three, in my humble estimation,  on the Comparative Pain Richter Scale.  Yes, it rocked me.

Torquemada’s Iron Maiden, if it didn’t kill you, mortally wounded your soul.   You’d make any devil’s bargain; piss yourself, beg and plead, for relief.  And I did.

painscale

 Yes, I survived.  Not only I:  many others have survived as well.  I’m proud and humbled to be among them.
Pain at that level is gone.  For now.  More of the same is bound to follow.  I am a hearty, full-bodied man.  But also a vulnerable man.  My names are legion:  colchicine, allopurinol, hydrochlorothiazide, digoxin, benazepril, metoprolol, oxycodone,clonidine, warfarin, fentanyl,  simvastatin, nortriptyline.  Slowly, ever so slowly I turn; turn towards my struggle towards health.  My physical therapist, and The Lord, are my shepherds.  Wit sustains me when muscles weaken.  Melancholy is a guilty treasure.  Prudently mined; it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Along the trails thru the frontier, lonely outposts were manned to give succor for the weary explorer.  I’m at one of those existential waystations now, waiting for few moments to catch my breath.  A new day is before me, but it’s getting late.  Got to get on my way.
Saddle up, Taxi Dog!  It’s time to ride.

Hey; I’m Over There Now… … …

Check out my new blog; now under construction at A League of Greying Panthers.

While many things about my life have changed, I’m back to old Taxi Dog optimism and good cheer.  I’m living in an assisted living residence.  It’s a big adjustment, and I am writing about it:  the good, the bad, and the very ugly.  But my sense of humor is intact.

I’ll see you over there.

Bye for now.

 

The Blues: Seasoned With Pain

Eagles:  seven women on my mind – never here be here again – singing back-up to Glenn and Joe- say-ave-ave-ave meee-eeee-eeeeeee.  Save me.  SAVE ME!!  please.  PLEASE!!  lighten my load.

I woke this morning, feelin’ low.  left hand/pain.  Arthee-I-rities!!  Gut pain. hand pain.  Pandora haunting me; awake!!

“Hello, sleepy boy”.  Can you see what time it is?  Is it St. Judy’s Comet?  Can you make another day?   Can’t you see; can’t you see.  What that women, Lord, ‘s been doin’ to me.

Am I feeling good to you, are you’re feelin’ good to me; do be.

Raw, raw, raw.  Data, raw data, raw nerves.  Gout pain.  insurance.  un-insurance.  “Stuck in the middle with you.   Trying to make sense of it all but I can see there’s no sense at all”

Cold slab of glass, lay me down, Mustang Sally.  Rhythm with blues.  Funky heartbeats fibrillating.   A-fib.  A-FIB!!  A-fib!  A-Fib!!  JT eases my mind for a lonely times and sister golden surprises me WITH  my mother Mary ‘s kindnesses.

Slowly pain slo.slo.slo. loosens.   The void un-forms.  Grips loosen.  Dark phosphenes come bright.

Was four A.M.  10:52.

—   —   —

i don’t know what those words ‘mean’.  In the formless void before Genesis; I existed.  All WAS.  And now I can see.  I AM.  Is that ‘poetry”?  Stream-of-consciousness?  Whatever it is; it IS.  What it is, it is me.  Music saves me every day.