Fata Morgana

After reading the novel, Fata Morgana by William Kotzwinkle, I was still curious about the phenomenon called a Fata Morgana. A little time on the internet and especially on YouTube gave me a clear understanding but still left me with a boat-load of wonder and amazement.

As a kid in Arizona, any trip down the old desert roads that rose and dipped across the arroyos puddled all the standing water of the dry desert on the road ahead of us in the form of mirages: Fata Morgana. It had something to do with heat waves rising, the curvature of the earth, and the reflective properties of tarmacadam.

I found this classic example of a Fata Morgana:

Life Begins When?

It’s in more than one state which has a Republican majority (no conspiracy thinking here) but Arizona (rhymes with “looney”) has passed the law declaring that life begins officially after the menses that predates the conception. So we’re all conceivably two-weeks older than we thought, at least in Arizona. Does this mean that women are officially considered pregnant for at least 28 days? I see a new Guiness record:  a woman in Arizona was pregnant 12 times in just one year … in fact, there are two million women now trying to get their name in the Guiness Book of World Records for the very same feat.

And think of all the unwed mothers roaming around Arizona (and especially congregating at ASU). When should they register at Planned Parenthood for pre-natal care? Or did Arizona already throw Planned Parenthood out of the state? I expect the demands in the emergency rooms are going to be horrendous:  what if every woman in the state rushes in for pre-natal care after each and every period she has? I suppose all the girls at ASU are going to call their mothers and cry big tears every month and then followup with a ‘never-mind’ a couple of weeks later (they do that now? But not all of them, right?).

But I was wondering why Arizona is only considering the almost-maybe-could be quickening of life as it pertains to the female? Oklahoma had that bill that would have made it illegal to deposit sperm in anything other than the Rick Santorum Approved Vessel, but that might have been a ruse to expose the male dominated legislation to ridicule via quid pro quo. In Arizona if conception is defined as existing at the point it becomes possible for a woman to conceive, doesn’t that suggest that any form of masturbation or mis-placed deposit on the part of the male might be considered withholding life … maybe even murder? If I remember correctly, only god should be doing that.

My brain hurts. Good thing I’m old.

States rights to be loopy

I am continually embarrassed by the stupidity and closed-mindedness of Arizona, a state that I have enjoyed most of my life. The anger and despair that prompted my earlier post has been reemphasized by the inimitable team at The Daily Show:

I recently heard a responsible person suggest that it might be time to breakup this not-so-“perfect union” and let the states go their own way. This would solve the problems of railing against the federal government and allow states like Arizona to stand or fall on the economic value of their looney-tunes ideas.

There is a lot to contemplate in this suggestion. One thing that is clear is that many states and citizens will be quite surprised when the deep pockets of the Federal government are removed. I suspect that some states, rather than offering the state in an auction and being bought-up by Walmart, will seek to form a federation with other, presumable adjacent, states that have similar problems. Texas might try going it alone but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it as the next special buy in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalogue.

So states may themselves want to split apart and realign on social or economic grounds (not just an old river that is drying up rapidly as the climate changes). I could see Northern California breaking away and possibly linking up with Oregon and Washington. Eastern Washington might better align with Idaho. Nevada, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico seem to be similar but once you get beyond the desolation of the desert, they are very different states and I’m not sure what is best in that area.

One thing that I might mention:  the Mexican ethnics studies might be teaching that the white man took the land away from the Mexican but I wonder how the Navaho, Zuni, Apache, Hopi, Comanche, etc. feel about this inconvenient truth.

When I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I took a special course in California history that was taught by the professor who wrote the book. The important thing here is that this book had been banned in schools around the state and had only been allowed in the University because the professor was using his own book. What did we learn? Well, we learned that the City of Los Angeles was a glutton for water and they would go to great lengths to steal the water from far-away areas and run it back to the city in impressive aqueducts and canals. We learned how the California wine industry saved the French wine industry when a blight decimated the vines in France and they were replaced by root vines from California (so is it French wine or is it California wine). We learned all about the destruction of California’s great forests by companies which made paper napkins out of trees that took hundreds of years to grow. We learned about the treatment of Asian-Americans during the war and the stark hopelessness of places such as Manzantar. We learned a lot, despite the education administrators try to hide the old man behind the curtain.

You can see by the radical truths I was exposed to as an undergraduate why I went on to seek an advanced degree in poetry and ended up becoming a dangerous computer programmer with a box full of new pocket-protectors hidden in the big drawer of my Steelcase.

Why is it that in this country we prefer lying and myth-making to telling the truth? Say, isn’t it Arizona that made it legal for a doctor to lie to a pregnant female patient? So why disband the Ethnic Studies classes:  just continue to feed the students the myths and prevarications that have done well by the majority of American citizens.  Lying is what makes America exceptionable.

I have to add a new Zonerism which just came to my attention:  there is a bill in Arizona which declares pregnancy to officially start the day after the woman’s last menstruation period before the actual conception. So life begins two weeks or so before Dad’s twinkle even enters into the picture. Now if I recalculate my age based on the legislative fictions coming out of Arizona and a few other states I discover that I may no longer be qualified as a “baby-boomer.”  I seem to be getting older and older without having to do anything myself. I suppose it is this sort of man-made fiction that came up with all the overage “begats” in the Bible.

Ain’t fiction grand?

 

It must be the dry heat

First, a disclaimer:  My mother was born in Arizona, met my father in High School there, and only moved on to San Diego because her father got a transfer there with his job. Every year or two my family would go on vacation to Arizona, usually over the spring break, and visit all the friends and relatives in Phoenix and Tucson. I remember there was even some serious consideration for moving back to Arizona but if I recall, salaries in Arizona were not on a par with California. Also, I am one of the few radical students from the ’60s to proudly announce that during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago I was right there on a couch in Phoenix watching it on television.

I’m not sure but I think I started to see the decline of sanity in Arizona with Electroglide In Blue. Ever since then there has been a constant barrage of people and events in Arizona that have not been on my list of the best things in life: Barry Goldwater, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, gila monsters, guns, fences, illegal immigrants, they don’t even celebrate Martin Luther King Day or subscribe to Daylight Savings Time (a good thing?). People from Arizona who vacation on the beaches of San Diego are called to Zoners. It’s probably a reasonable nick-name but it always sounds like someone from Star Trek.

Now I read about the removal of some books and teaching subjects from many of the schools in Arizona. For instance, Shakespeare’s The Tempest is being confiscated because it deals with race, ethnicity and oppression as central themes. What seems consummately stupid in schools with Mexican-American students in the majority, is that they are removing history books that focus on the history of the Mexican-Amerrican population. Even a local author, Leslie Silko, was removed, ostensibly because he supports ethnic studies. Don’t the white people in Arizona realize that they are probably more correctly described as “ethnic” than the indigenous people of the state. I looked it up and the Gadsden Purchase was not promised to the United States in the Bible; it was bought, and not too cheap either. It looks like Arizona is intending to remove anything from schools that might expose the innocent young students to truth—reality is so much more difficult to manage than myth.

The article suggests a comparison with South Africa and even before reading that last line I was wondering if apartheid is the next step.

Read the article at Slate and form your own opinions: Who’s Afraid of the Tempest? .