Saturday, July 23, 2016

The 2016 Republican Convention: Several Instances of Mass Hysteria

By Madeleine Kando

Mass hysteria happens when there is a group of people who fall into a collective delusion. There have been several cases of mass hysteria throughout history, the most famous of which are the witch-hunts, which lasted more than 200 years. Countless innocent women were executed.

Here is a list of fictitious epidemics that are not such a far cry from what is really happening to the insane crowd that populates the Convention Hall in Cleveland.

The Phantom Pregnancy Panic

An extremely rare form of mass hysteria gripped the attendees of the 2016 Republican National Convention, when 34 year-old Ivanka Trump announced that she was expecting a baby. This is, of course, false. Whatever the case, Ivanka’s incredibly convincing personality was enough to trigger a pregnancy panic. By the third day of the Convention, numerous female attendees said that they too were pregnant and caused a ruckus in the Convention hall. Only the constant reassurance by their supreme leader, Donald Trump, that they were never pregnant in the first place did the women finally calm down.

The Vanishing Genitalia Epidemic

Although their nominee, Donald Trump, had guaranteed them that no matter what the size of his hands, ‘I guarantee you, there’s no problem down there’, an episode of vanishing genitalia caused widespread fear amongst the attendees. These fears were usually triggered by incidental body contact with a Democrat in a public place, after which the “victim” would feel strange scrotum sensations and grab their genitals to confirm that they were still there. Read more...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Donald Trump, the GOP, the Media, and the Public: Plenty of Blame for All

The Dancing Mania: 17th Century Epidemic

American politics have descended into lunacy. The weird gyrations at the Republican Convention remind me of the Saint Vitus epidemic in 17th century Europe, an earlier attack of mass insanity. No need to rehash things: Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech was relatively unimportant, but the Trump people’s (e.g. Paul Manafort’s) reaction to the ensuing flap was absolutely “amazing,” to use the Donald’s favorite word. Never have I seen such contortions by people in desperate denial.

The Trumpites’ reaction to ANY accusation boils down to three tactics: (1) deny it; (2) change the subject; (3) blame Hillary Clinton.

Then there was Chris Christie’s witch-hunt: He accused Hillary Clinton of being to blame for the American deaths in Benghazi, the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the deaths of some of the 400,000 Syrians killed by president Assad, protecting Al Qaeda affiliates, and much more. As he recited this litany, the hordes of delegates chanted “guilty!” and “lock her up!” A veritable lynch mob or medieval witch-burning mob. Read more...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is Time Reversible?

by Madeleine Kando

I was in the midst of a belated spring-cleaning in my house and suddenly found myself confronted with boxes full of photographs. The past was oozing out of those boxes and I couldn't stop the flow. Being the child of a photographer, this is hardly surprising, but it really felt like a tsunami, to the point where I had to remind myself that these snapshots weren’t real. These moments were gone, flushed away in the stream of the river of time.

Since the birth of photography, the past has had free entrance to the present; no more borders so to speak. Like the Schengen Agreement between the EU countries, the past can go anywhere it pleases, even into the future if it wants. My grandson will be rummaging through these boxes, wondering what happened to this young, beautiful 20-year old woman and how she managed to turn into this old, wrinkled person whom he calls ‘Oma’.

Before the birth of photography, people had to rely on rare and expensive paintings to look into the past, which most of them couldn’t afford. The majority of people relied on their memories to conjure up the past, but otherwise it just stayed conveniently hidden. The past knew its place and didn’t infringe on the present. Read more...

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Coming Home

by Madeleine Kando

I travel to Europe at least twice a year and have become very familiar with the routine of clearing customs and immigration on my way back to the States. Even though I emigrated to this country eons ago, the butterflies are still fluttering about in my stomach as soon as I enter Immigration Hall, with its red and green line marked on the shiny floor.

I was stateless for the first 18 years of my life, you see, and I have an irrational fear that the boot of the law suddenly would decide to kick me back from whence I flew.

That long red line conjures up a whole smorgasbord of emotions. I feel a tinge of superiority as I walk by the much longer green line packed with aliens. I am no longer an alien, my green card proves it. I am a member of the club now, albeit not an elite member yet. I throw unobtrusive glances at my fellow club members and try to adopt their nonchalant and casual air. Americans are like that, you know, they talk to each other in public places, they don’t put on airs. They feel comfortable in their own shoes, probably the result of a century’s worth of being the top dog in the world. Read more...

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It’s all about the ‘The’

By Madeleine Kando

The word ‘the’ is the most commonly used word in the English language. We don’t give it a second thought; it’s there, like the air we breathe or the water we drink. Actually, it’s not really a word like ‘butter’ or ‘table’, since it can not even stand on its own two feet. If a ‘the’ walked through the door, you wouldn’t know what you were dealing with. At least with a table or a chair, you know where you stand, but a ‘the’? You’d be waiting for the rest of the retinue to appear before you could make sense of the visitor.

The 'A'

The ‘the’, together with the ‘a’ and the ‘an’ make up the articles of the English language. Even though they are useless on their own, these little function words pretty much determine what people are talking about. If my husband came in and said ‘A guy just hit a car’, it might elicit a slight shoulder shrug, but if he said: ‘A guy just hit the car’, I would drop the plate I was holding in my hands and run outside to assess the damage. Read more...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Who is the stupidest now?

by Tom Kando

Just a few words about Thursday’s Brexit disaster: As the American comedian Andy Borowitz just wrote, the British have lost the right to claim that Americans are dumber than they are:

“Luxuriating in the superiority of their intellect over Americans” has long been a favorite pastime in Britain... But, according to Alistair Dorrinson, a pub owner in North London, British voters have done irreparable damage to the ‘most enjoyable sport this nation has ever known: namely, treating Americans like idiots’....In the face of this startling display of national idiocy, Dorrinson still mustered some of the resilience for which the British people are known. ‘This is a dark day’ he said. ‘But I hold out hope that, come November, Americans could become dumber than us once more.’ How will America reclaim the title? Obvious: Elect Donald Trump as our 45th president. Read more...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Gun Dilemma

By Madeleine Kando

If I was a burglar and I tried to make a living in the Netherlands, I probably would have a real hard time getting a hold of a gun to convince the burglarized to hand over the loot. It would take a lot of effort, money and time, so I probably would burgle without packing iron and hope for the best.

If I was a burglar and I lived in the United States, it would make sense for me to have a gun. It's easy to get, it's cheap and any self-respecting burglar wouldn't think twice about carrying. If you have to invade someone's property anyway, why not make sure that you have the upper hand? Not to mention the unexpected possibility that the victim might himself be walking heavy.

So you see, it all depends on the context. Do I, the burglar, need a gun to accomplish my mission? Were I a burglar with philosophical inclinations, I would try to find the answer before I ventured on my first prowl. Read more...