Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Being of sound mind...

Modern Mayan calendar (Wiki commons)

I awakened early this morning, rehashing recent events, both personal and global, and came to a conclusion. On the off chance that the Mayan calendar end-of-world thing is correct, I would like to make a Current Will and Testament, and give away some of what I have right now, and some other things that I may not have in particular abundance, but that others need far more than I do. Among those items to be bestowed, along with those who should receive them, are the following:

1. My existential angst regarding the future of the planet. I give this stunning gift to: the military industrial complex, especially Monsanto and Lockheed among a great many others.

2. My disgust at the modern medical establishment. This goes almost entirely to the American Medical Association, although a portion of it is reserved for Lancet, the compromised and ethics-challenged magazine of British medicine which, in rewarding the gormless journalist son of its editor, ruined the career of one of the few doctors making headway in finding out why autism is such a big problem the past generation or so.

3. My undying loathing of the pharmaceutical industry. Glaxo Smith Kline, or whatever they have morphed into now, gets a major portion of this bequest, but no pharmaceutical company should be unrewarded. For bringing the world "medicines" that have been proven in double blind studies for which the suborned researchers were doubly blind, they should be amply rewarded. For their campaign against what Gandhi called the most effective, least expensive medicine in the world, homeopathy, they should be rewarded over and over with as much energy as possible.

4. My distaste for American politics. There are so many potential beneficiaries here that it is hard to choose. However, I would choose one family and one diseased spirit for the bulk of it: The Bush family and Dick Cheney. No single family has so destroyed the fabric of US life as the Bush family, but particularly, of course, their moronic least son, George W. Still, idiot that he is, he simply marched to the tune played for him by his much more devious father and the other members of the Bohemian Grove, so possibly all of them should also receive something from my bequest. Dick Cheney should, perhaps, receive the lion's share of this bequest, though; with luck, it will overstress even his dickey heart and put him out of our misery once and for all.

5. I leave some courage, however, to the cowards in the American school system who have politically corrected independent thinking out of existence up to and including university level.

6. I leave some honest self-assessment to the hollow greedy men (mainly) in US and global banking. They have turned democracy into a slow but steady means to pick the bones of 98 percent of the population because, in their shallowness, they believe they need five houses, 14 cars and blood diamonds to adorn their bimbo sluts.

7. Buckets and buckets and buckets of tears to the promoters of the NRA's agenda.  Real tears, tears that they can feel in their gut so deeply that they think they might never move again, never mind continue on in life.

8. A bit of intelligence to be shared among a number of people, to include Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Rick Santorum, Michelle Bachmann, that fat actress from SNL, Orly Taitz, The Donald...and whoever else may come forward asking for a point of two of IQ so that they might be distinguished from run-of-the-mill morons like Clint Eastwood, Ted Nugent, etc.

9. I leave any animal travel crates I might own to Michael Vick, with the instructions on how to insert himself into one, and take himself out when there's a bigger dog around who can rip off his ears and so forth.

I'm sure there are more bequests I'd like to make. So I reserve the right to add to or amend this testament at my own discretion. Providing the world does not end soon, of course.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Renunciation is a right, not a treasonous act...even in America. Yet.

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at an LGBT parade: I guess he thinks it's OK to be transgendered--but woe betide you if you try to change your nationality! (Wiki Commons)
When Democratic politicians begin tearing up their unspoken mandate to be the voice of reason and the champions of personal freedom, it's time to leave.

I have already done that. I saw it coming, and made plans to make tracks. I'm not prescient; I've merely been a journalist for 40 years and reading between the lines of what politicians spout had long since become second nature.

Once I was gone, I realized that I was actually a bit late on the uptake on that one. When we got to England, the local bank phoned to offer us a fantastic interest rate on our savings. We went to see the lady. Upon finding out that I was  US citizen, despite my having dual nationality, the second being that of the Republic of Ireland, she withdrew the offer. In fact, as it turned out, there was no banking product she could offer us except the lowest possible savings and checking plans. Why? She wasn't sure. So I began the research.


Everyone tarred with the USB brush

Why? Because in its avaricious attempt to own all the world's wealth, even that which has of its own accord chosen to go elsewhere, it has imposed on foreign banks serving US nationals residing there reporting requirements to the IRS that are draconian in every way. Nor can the banks opt out without incurring penalties that are exacted when they, or their other clients, attempt to do financial transactions in or with the United States. The convenient excuse for this intrusive juggernaut into the sovereign affairs of other nations was the UBS bank agreement a couple of years ago, whereby the notoriously secretive Swiss banks were coerced into giving up details of their well-heeled American clients. At the time, I wondered if it would be ALL their well-heeled American clients...or just the ones not politically safeguarded by the Bohemian Grove, and so on. Or if the one percent had identified and set up a different tax haven for themselves, and had decided the time had come to gather in the gold held by the next three of four percent of Americans.

I don't blame the foreign banks, by the way, for complying. Who wants Uncle Sam peeking into your undies and grabbing a good part of your package just because of Sammy's greed? But in global economic terms, complying is probably less horrific than losing business because of US sanctions.
I do blame the arrogant, avaricious, narcissistic attitude of the American government. The only question I have is this: Is it a case of trickle down? Or trickle up? We found that Reagan's General Economic Theory of Trickle-down was a miserable failure. Instead, wealth trickled up.

Saverin, Schumer, Casey and me--and you, like it or not

After reading the comments concerning Eduardo Saverin's renunciation of his US citizenship, I must conclude that in the United States, arrogance, greed and narcissism trickle up. The recent maneuvers by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bob Casey (D-PA) make it clear that this is so. If they are responding to the grass-roots opinions vividly expressed on HuffPo and elsewhere regarding renunciation, they are simply the boil at the head of a great chancre of chauvinism--incorporating the other factors mentioned--that needs to be pricked.

A Yale Law professor, Bruce Ackerman, opined in the LA Times (requoted by HuffPo) those who "can look with disdain upon the struggling 99.9% who believe that a commitment to their country is a lifetime affair" deserve to be punished. He spoke, of course, about Eduardo Saverin, Facebook co-founder who relocated to Singapore last September. Ackerman  further stated that he thought that the "number of Americans renouncing their citizenship grew from 238 in 2008 to 1,534 in 2010. This sixfold increase no doubt includes a hefty portion of super-rich cosmopolitans."

He could not be more wrong. Very, very few renunciants are of the super-rich. Most are of the super-disgusted. The United States of America of song and story is long dead; it is the work of alchemists and fools to attempt to resurrect it at this point, and only trompe l'oeil painters have a shot at making it look like something it is not: the home of the brave and the land of the free.

America: "Love it or leave it" attitude..except you won't leave unscathed

The land of the free would not fear the defection, permanently or not, of citizens. If that nation were worthy of returning to, many would come back. Some would not. Some of those leaving for good would be rich, some middle-class, some poor. Same for those returning.

But the "all or nothing, love it or leave it" meme of America holds sway, and now anyone who wants for any reason to dance to his or her own drummer is branded an ingrate, a traitor even.

Shumer and Casey are fools. But they are fools likely to appeal to the lowest common denominator of American. The ill-educated (regardless of academic credentials). The impoverished who think the money of a few measly millionaires--and those of us who paid just ordinary folks' ordinary taxes--will solve the problem. The self-righteous. The unimaginative. The fearful. The jealous; perhaps those are the worst of all, as they might hide their base emotion under a cloak of drum-banging patriotism.

There is already a law on the books that requires that those whom the State Department finds--in its singular and unsupervised inquiry--to have left the US for tax purposes may never again set foot in the nation. Whether or not they have family left behind. Whether or not, one assumes, they meant to return with the solution to poverty or the cure for cancer. Period. Amen. End of story...the black-and-white No Man's Land that I once thought only Republicans loved so well.

Poor old Ackerman. He also noted, "If an American wishes to separate himself from this country and its people, he is taking a step of deep significance. He should not be able to easily return and brag to his friends about the billions he is making by evading civic responsibilities." Such a deluded man for someone with academic credentials. The Reed Amendment addressed that more than a decade ago. As for it being a significant step, as I've noted before, only the United States, among so-called First World nations, makes a renunciation irrevocable. Indeed, most other nations don't require any formulaic process at all; people just leave, and come back, at will.

The personal aspect for an ordinary citizen of the globe

So there it is. I had no intention of bragging about anything, least of all the millions I don't have, have never had, and don't expect ever to have. I don't brag about the fact that I have the luxury of a second (well, now an only) citizenship; I am grateful, because it allowed me to renounce. I am very, very grateful for that. I don't intend to brag that I left; I merely offer that after 50 years in the trenches--from the time as a teenager that I became aware of the disparities in American society and the disingenuousness of its politicians--I decided I needed a few years of peace and quiet and humble enjoyment of my husband, my pets (grieving the horse left behind with a friend because he was too old to travel) and a small, polite, lovely nation, unfettered with the constant need to protest something outside my immediate environment, or protect something within. I was late, I might add, protecting our assets from the Bush meltdown, so it is definitely a humble exile I have decided to enjoy.

I never intended to ever set foot in America again, with or without renouncing, although I doubt even the State Department could make a case that a basically penniless, semi-retired journalist renounced for tax reasons, especially since my tax rate is higher in the UK. I did, however, take the precaution of obtaining high calibre legal representation for the renunciation to ensure that I could re-enter the US if I ever want to. To see my family, friends and aged horse, perhaps, although all but the horse can visit me here, and are welcome.

Nor did I intend to let this cat out of the bag without prior notice to my family and friends. But in the end, I decided the chips will just have to fall where they may. I have taken care of business assiduously, and delayed my own pleasure, for 45 years. And I suspect I still take care of business: I think it is the business of my soul to use what I know and who I am to attempt to shed some light on how the world works, take it or leave it.

I am not, in fact, going to return to the United States. My chiropractor asked me yesterday, as he worked on a mighty sprain, whether my family was upset that I had left.

I said I didn't know. I guess now I will find out.


POSTSCRIPT: Americans are, at present, still guaranteed the right to renounce US citizenship if they can find another nation that will have them. No mean feat, actually, unless one has megabucks and can buy one's way in (certain nations sell citizenship) or are descended from a citizen of a nation that recognizes one or two generations removed as their own, such as Ireland (my own salvation) and I believe Greece and Italy, under some circumstances, and even the UK for one generation. However, renunciation comes at a cost. While each person's emotional cost will differ, all will pay $450 for the privilege, a fee that is actually a burden to some renunciants, thereby belying the claim that most are rich. Moving abroad is expensive; some do it with every cent they can round up and adding half a thou to that is burdensome, and, I have read, sometimes impossible. It is a right, then, like voting was a right, back in the poll tax era. Unfortunately, while voting rights got nominally more expansive (except in Florida in 2000, when some people were chased from the polls for being the wrong color), the right to leave and seek one's fortune elsewhere had gotten more dear. Many legal scholars also believe the fee is illegal, it being the ordinary business of government to serve its citizens in such ways free of charge. And when the fee is exacted (extracted?), the renunciant is STILL a US citizen. Only after the fee is paid, the interview is endured, the oath taken and the State Department's magic woven is the person relieved of his or her US citizenship.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Romney channels Bush; Vicious bully pulls wool over America's eyes

Romney, Bush II: A certain case of sheep and goats (Wiki Commons)
This is not what I planned to write today. But I find there is nothing that is more important than this: an explication of why Romney is a sterling successor to George W. Bush as the Republican Party's fair-haired boy.

Oh, sorry. Did I mention fair hair in the same sentence as Romney? Why yes, I did. I guess that is likely to put one in mind of the now well-documented physical assault by a young Mitt on another student at the private school they attended. The other student was presumed gay. Who knows, who cares? But it was very obvious that he had long blond hair, flopping nonchalantly over one eye. A sort of Beach-Boys-Go-Hippie look, one might suppose. Interesting. Unique. And isn't that what boys do in their teens, try to be unique?

Not the Suits-in-Waiting, apparently. It was simply too much for old card-carrying rich snot Republican bigwig wannabe junior master of the universe Mitt Romney. So he led a posse, pinned the blond-haired guy down and cut his hair off.

Excuse me, but that constitutes assault with a deadly weapon in my book.

But aside from that, it is probably actually a bit worse--although not much--than Dubya's so-called prank of stuffing firecrackers into frogs' mouths, lighting the firecracker and tossing the frog into the air to see it explode. Not worse, though, than another of Dubya's tricks, branding frat pledges with a coat hanger. Again, that seems like assault with a deadly weapon to me. But in an article about the hanger business, one of the victims said it was almost a relief after the beating he'd taken earlier from his putative "brothers."

What was Romney's excuse for his youthful assault on another student (which he ludicrously referred to as hijinks), I wonder? TV kids' shows when G. Porgie was a boy were not nearly as violent as they got later, and adult TV was pretty tame, too. So it would be hard to blame the influence of the media for their sadistic tendencies. Same for Mitzi.

Oh, my. I am SOOOOO sorry. I punned on Romney's name in a way that could be construed as, well, gay.

I would spend some time wondering how anyone, even a Teapublican, could fail to see that electing vicious men, who had been vicious boys, to the presidency is a bad idea. But there's no need to ponder just how vicious Romney's predecessor in unwarranted aggression was; a quick look at just today's headlines from a few publications reveals that viciousness is the heart and soul of the Republican mindset.

Here's a brief roundup of things currently favored by Republicans:
  •  Capital punishment.
  • Rounding up, detaining and exporting starving South Americans who will do anything to try to provide for their families, including sneaking into a nation they can see is as hostile as it used to be wealthy.
  • Keeping tabs on citizens who simply want a responsive government, such as the Occupiers, and beating them up at will.
  • Tossing society's watchdogs, the journalists, into jails in larger numbers than ever before.
  • Cutting essential humanitarian services instead of taxing the idle rich...even when one of the richest pleads to be taxed.
  • Allowing virtually unchecked gun purchases for any reason by any person, sane or not--criminal or not.
  • Demanding that all sexuality in the nation be performed as if by Puritan missionaries.
  • Ensuring that the vast knowledge of the globe on which we live is parceled out according to the beliefs of terrified fundamentalists boobs, or denied altogether.
  • Reversing such few bona fide attempts at government-backed equality between the sexes as there are.
  • Taking control by fiat of women's health.
  • Ensuring that more babies are born to mothers who cannot feed them by denying birth-control information and services.
  • Consigning, in some states, victims of rape to the position of bearing their attacker's young.
  • Destroying such few unions as are left, the only slim glimmer of salvation from virtual serfdom for working Americans.
  • Demonizing anyone who uses the word socialism.
  • Making heroes of unconscionable reprobates like Rush Limbaugh.
  • And on and on.
And you'll notice I didn't even mention Afghanistan or Iraq, or the death and misery dealt there and the insupportable destruction of young Americans sent to fight and/or be maimed for little Georgie's vendetta against a dictator his father failed to bring down, and the ludicrous search for Bin Laden, whose whereabouts were probably known higher up the Washington food chain than anyone really cares to consider.

In the face of all of the above, or even half of the above, or even a quarter of the above, is it possible to understand how any decent human being could cast a vote for George W. Bush or Mitt Romney? No, it is not. A vote for Dubya was...and a vote for Romney is...tantamount to condoning any sort of viciousness of which mankind is capable. And frankly, a few kinds that were added when the Bush-Cheney Cabal seized power and are now therefore in the arsenal of the Republican governance machine.

Can anyone really imagine giving that power to Romney? He's just as vicious as Bush, and worse, he has the brains and comportment to hide it a bit better. A bit. If you ask me, his intent is written all over him. You don't even have to listen to whatever he mumbles about now; his character and pathway through the universe were set in the hallway of a private school when he viciously led an attack--and assault with a deadly weapon--on another student who was different from Romney and Co.

Viciousness, need one say, should not be the major emotional component of any sitting president, except possibly in Russia, and I figure they've got that all right.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making hash of hashtags

Your brain (Wiki Commons)

Your brain on Twitter (Bird's Nest Soup, Wiki Commons)
I don't understand Twitter. I don't want to use Twitter. I don't want to read Twitter...mainly because there is nothing to read on Twitter. I prefer the back of a nice big bottle of hair spray; lots of words there and at least some of them, unlike the words on Twitter, are understandable. Fragrance, for instance. But what the hell does #atozchallenge mean when it's at home?

I didn't understand Friends, either. Not the relationship; the show. A bunch of less than normally attractive twenty-somethings hanging out in each other's aesthetically challenged apartments doing the dumbest things since the TV commercials that gave the world "Wassup?" Example: Two of the Friends gormless dorks--and this was a scene chosen for a promo--install a big screen TV, sit down in matching recliner chairs like my father used to have, assume an even more vacant expression than they started with, and make some sort of mewling sound that would cause even Mother Theresa to kick them if she thought the sound came from a cat.

Before that, I didn't understand Seinfeld. It was a show about nothing. It said so. OK. I'll grant you that.

From Cheers to maternity

Before Seinfeld and the ping pong ball innards of shows that came after it, I understood television. There were actual shows on television about something. Cheers followed the lives of customers of a pub; some were likeable, some not. Some were accomplished, some not. None was as useless as the empty t-shirts and blonde bimbos on Friends.

Murphy Brown was about a woman journalist, a high-caliber woman journalist, and the bevy of character types who would be found in such a person's orbit. Each show set up a problem or task, and in 22 minutes, it was solved. Even Murphy's baby was born in 22 minutes.

It was a witty, clever show about people who had achieved something, not about Generation Sleaze layabouts who had no past, no future and an amount of present (or presence, depending on how you would like to parse that thought) equal to their past and future.

Facebook v. Twitter v. The Void

I understand Facebook. You can make contact with all your friends; those who have time to spare and/or something to say will engage. I regard it as sort of the broadcast version of email, which I admit is somewhat more useful in today's world than the telephone or snail mail. Although I still do really like sending and receiving snail mail. I, for one, can still handle a pen; I wonder if most people today actually are unable to write...that is, engage in penmanship to express thoughts, simple thoughts such a Thank You.

But Twitter? Twitter for crying out loud? On an average day, my Twitter page collects 215 tweets per hour, 99 percent of which I don't read. Of the one percent I do read, I wish I hadn't read 99 percent of those. That leaves precious little value there. It is a time waster. It is useless, except perhaps for convincing empty barrels that they are not empty after all. I mean, who the heck cares what Katie Couric thinks about anything, or whether she has had this year's televised internal inspection of her bowels? Oh, sure. Her late husband died of intestinal cancer. We KNOW that already.

Terminal nose picking vs. the void

But it does raise another question: Why do people, and even celebrities (who may or may not be people), champion a cause someone they know has died from? What if you had a close relative who died from picking his nose after gardening and a tiny slug larva got up there and crawled into his brain and had babies and croaked him? Would you then be duty bound to find or found an organization dedicated to preventing needless deaths by Finger-borne Garden Larva Cerebral Parasitism? I don't think so.

Why can't these people pick something they believe in to support--education, arts, gardening, space travel, any sport but football (which no one can believe in, anymore than one can believe in slow, fat men with broken teeth bashing each other for millions of dollars)? But no. They pick deadly things, cancer and heart attacks and suchlike, and then throw tons of their waking moments at it. OF COURSE cancer and heart attacks increase; you would expand, too, if most of the world was paying you rapt attention and spending its hard-earned income on you. You don't think so? You think these organizations are about cures? About as much as a pit bull is about cuddlywuddlykissypoo. It isn't the American Anti-Cancer Society or the American Anti-Heart Disease Foundation, after all. The money gives them power to make sure the disease--not the cure--is the only thing we think about. And fear. The words are used to induce fear, which induces us to part with cash, which, as noted, just breeds more fear. Yes, there is power in words.

Obama knows words; George...not so much

Don't believe that either? Think about it. Barack Obama won the White House by using words. If Al Gore had had words as good as Obama's--words more powerful than Bush's money--Gore would have won. If Gore's freaking lawyers had had words as good as the lying words of Bush's lawyers, Gore would have won. There would have been no hanging chads, no fascination with the sub-tropical Elvira known as Katherine Harris. No Iraq. No meltdown. And global warming would be accorded the significance--as something that will kill off future generations--it deserves. "Mission Accomplished" would still be a viable phrase, and not an instant joke whenever it is used.

Twitter is a word. It means the incomprehensible sounds made by birds. You might perhaps have heard the word birdbrain. Maybe you even know the definition.

I rest my case.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hair salons and indentured servitude in America

Flag of the Republic of Ireland, my homeland (Wiki commons)

I just recently returned to a hair salon I had abandoned about 14 months ago. Before that, I loved the place. For several years, I had actually planned my trips from the States to the UK so that my hair wouldn’t get too awful before the next visit to that salon.

But, after living here for a year and a half, my intense admiration waned for a bit and I thought I’d try out another salon. Just to compare. Just to be sure.

The first new one I tried had some advantages. It was lovely, I mean really gorgeous. A sort of modern traditionalist d├ęcor, all cream and grey and polished aluminium chandeliers in a Listed Building. One didn’t lean back over a sink for washing. Rather, one reclined on a sort of sofa-like thing and the stylist held one’s head in her hands while washing. Very posh, decadent even. No dripping, no crinked neck. The stylist was a lovely young woman with lots to talk about. But the haircut was horrible.

I next tried a very popular, incredibly unattractive but somewhat lower priced salon. Great cut. Truly great. But the neck crinking over the sink was horrific, carried out at the hands of apprentices. And the stylist had nothing to talk about. Nothing. Not one thing. Very boring 45 minutes, especially when one expects the usual buzz and chatter of a salon, and that small guilty pleasure is denied. But the cutdid I mention?was great.

Still, at length, and on a day I needed to be well-served because the haircut preceded a very important trip to London (the reason for which will be apparent further down), she decided her phone calls to set up a wedding gig were more important than properly drying my hair. When I left the salon to do errands before going home, I was miserably uncomfortable. It’s not like January weather in Devon is balmy. So,  40 shivering minutes later I returned and demanded that she dry my hair properly.

Valued customers

For my most recent cut, six weeks after the wet-head routine, I went back to my first salon, to the stylist I had crossed oceans to visit. Whose name, as it happens, is Laura.  I cringed about it. I felt like…well, like an ingrate. Finally, I just thanked her for taking me back.

She looked at me like I was a lunatic, as did the salon owner who cuts in the next chair. “Of course we accept you back. In fact, I expect people to shop around once in a while, and return here if we give what they truly want,” the owner said. When I told them about the wet hair day, my stylist said, “That’s not my idea of customer care. Would you like another latte?”

Some are welcome, as long as they obey

Thinking about the ramifications of renouncing one's American citizenship this morning, that incident came to mind. And then I recalled a business I once profiled. It is a big business. International. It fills a large employment bill in a small town in the upper South, USA. They pay well and offer great benefits, including paying total tuition for an employee’s wife or children who wants to earn a college degree. Problem: Employees can never leave.

OK. They can leave. They just can never come back. They are not, in short, free to test the waters or their skills in another environment, to see if there could be something more fulfilling for their heart, mind or soul; there isn’t much in town more fulfilling for the bank account, especially in non-skilled and semi-skilled work. But still, to some, there are things more important than dollars.

It’s not slavery, exactly. But it is some form of illicit ownership. Sure, it’s a personal choice to leave and seek. But it is a lifetime decision, not just a decision about a job. No Prodigal Son scenarios allowed. This bespeaks a fundamentalism that, in industrial terms, is more exacting even than a story in the Old Testament. There is no gentleness, no acceptance, no forgiveness, no understanding of the human need to seek. There is nothing but hardness, a rather cynical trade of exceptional money for excessive and unconscionably exacted loyalty. It’s the capitalist way.

Which brings me, inexorably, to the subject of renouncing US citizenship.

For most nations in the world (the political horror known as Eritrea excepted), a citizen who goes abroad to work pays taxes in the nation he or she lives and works in. An American citizen who tries that, or even a green card holder who has spent 12 consecutive years working in the US and is thereby claimed by the US as a US person*, is SOL. Taxes must be paid to the US and the new nation, above a specific (and always changing) dollar amount of income. And regardless of income, an IRS form must be filed, an FBAR must be filed, and starting in 2013, yet another compliance form is demanded. 

FBAR: Fubar by any other name

The FBAR is particularly nasty. There is no way for people of average means to even know about it, since the only reference to it is on the IRS form filled out only by those who earn MORE THAN $15,000 A YEAR IN INTEREST. I know of not one single person who has bank accounts earning interest in that range. Obviously, such a thing wouldn’t apply to me.

But if the FBAR isn’t filed, the Treasury Department can charge $10,000 per incident per year. It must be filed any time an American citizen or long-term green card holder is a signatory to any account (bank or investment or business ownership) that is worth more than $10,000 in a calendar year. Even for one day. So, if Joe Schmoe of Kokomo inherited $20,000 from a Scottish uncle and decided to just leave it in Scotland in a bank account for, oh, ten years until retirement and the possibility to travel, guess what? The Treasury, in cahoots with the IRS, could assess Joe a fine of a minimum of $100,000 on his inheritance. If Joe’s wife, also an American or green card holder, also had ownership of the accountand married couples might certainly arrange that, wouldn’t you think?then she would  be liable for an additional $100,000 in fines.

Bad hair salons, strong-arm companies and the Yewnited States

But what has this to do with hairdressing? Everything. Because for the past several years, increasing numbers of Americans have been not only expatriating in protest over political matters if they could; they have been renouncing their US citizenship. Tearing up their passport and proclaiming they are finished with the double-taxation and virtual indentured servitude to the US banking industry in cahoots with the IRS and Treasury. And they are not welcomed back.

American expats who renounce their citizenship, as increasingly they must in order to conduct the simple business of living abroad, are treated like employees of that upper South industrial company, not like the valued customer of a hair salon. Almost any other citizen of the world can leave his or her home nation, move elsewhere for any length of time and pay taxes in the new nation, and return home to be welcomed with open arms. And they will NOT have the onerous reporting requirements and threats of fines to contend with in the meantime. No other nation on earth (except the aforementioned execrable Eritrea) thinks it owns its citizensbody, mind and souland demands obeisance from them even when they’ve chosen to make a home elsewhere for a while, or forever.

Threatening foreign banks to aid in rounding up US expats

Living abroad as an American is becoming more difficult by the minute. A new slew of reporting requirements for individuals was crafted in 2010; a huge number of requirements for foreign banks granting so much as a checking account to US citizens living there have made it all but impossible for US citizens to get simple banking services in much of the world. Why would ANY foreign bank want to pony up its records because the IRS wants them? They fear refusing because of possible reprisals against their nation’s international businesses, and they fear opening up the internal workings of their systems to US scrutiny. It’s a case of “Who died and left the US boss?”

Answer: No one. But the United States Congress doesn’t know that.

Stupid is as stupid does

Of all this, including the financial requirements of expats and the financial institutions abroad, Jackie Guignon, director of American Citizens Abroad, explains:

What the US is doing is pushing away a lot of people who are very honest, and work or live overseas for a multiple of reasons; they are cutting the branch on which they are sitting.

If you don’t have that international network of people who are loyal to your country and move back and forth freely you are at a major disadvantage. The diaspora is fundamental to developing international business.
Apparently, Uncle Sam thinks international business can be developed by browbeating foreign financial institutions and punishing expats who sometimes end up not being just expats, but renunciants, in order to cope with the US government-induced impossibilities of living abroad.

Uncle Sam, global bully boy

Uncle Sam was always a global bully boy. But lately, he has become mean as well as aggressive.

Lots more people than ever before are opting to sever their ties completely with the United States. They can do this if they have a second citizenship, and many people either married to foreign nationals or having worked in a foreign nation for years can do it fairly easily, as well as those who are descended from foreign nationals. While you must be a son or daughter in most cases, Ireland, and in a more limited way Greece and Italy, grant citizenship to second generation members. If you’re Jewish, and you want Israeli citizenship, as I understand it, you’re home free. 

That means, considering the ethnicity of the US, that a lot of US expats are eligible for the second citizenship that would allow them to renounce their US citizenship should they ever fully understand that a person held to the bosom of a nation against his or her will--as the US does to all its expats--is not truly free. In short, once they've stopped drinking the Kool-Aid of American freedom, which is lip service to a fact long since destroyed by Republican politicians and capitalist juggernauts.

Turning a right into a de facto privilege

Renouncing US citizenship is a right; if it were not, then the entire nation would be not only de facto slaves, but actual slaves. However, it does cost $450 to renounce, which makes it equate nicely with indentured servants having to buy their way out of their indenture. And one must show up in person to renounce in front of an embassy officer and a Stars and Stripes, the latter just for dramatic effect, I understand.

Once a US citizen has renounced, there is no going back. Not only will that former US citizen not be welcomed with open arms should he or she decide, after checking things out, that the US is where they want to be after all. Renunciants are shifted into the lumpen mass of global proles seeking a better life in the great North American monolith and must wait their turn, if ever, to live there. And then the ex expat would have to apply for citizenship as if her or she had lived forever in Romania and knew squat about the US of A.

Renunciants must even obtain visas to visit, although if they are now citizens of visa waiver countries, they can avoid that. But even so, their names will be run―in a new program for a new charge of $14 per head per visathrough a global criminal data base, lest a former American with a jaywalking citation in Singapore contaminate the dubious ethics of a nation that stood still for Bush and Cheney, the BP/Halliburton killing of the Gulf of Mexico, Monsanto’s mere existence, Limbaugh on the airwaves and myriad other abominations far more egregious than a parking ticket in Cartagena.

When they have  received the all-clear from the great snooper computer in the sky, and they attempt to enter the sovereign territory of the United States, they will need both their new passport and the Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN), the document that results from renunciation. Why? Because otherwise the brain trust at immigration will turn them back. The expatriated/renounced traveller will come up on the database as a US citizen, and US citizens MUST travel into the US on a US passport.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was simply travelling through the US with his family on the way to a holiday elsewhere a few years back when he was turned back. Literally. He had to fly home and apply for a US passport. (I wonder if they rushed it? No matter. Holiday ruined, absurdity ascendant.) It turns out Johnson’s mother had been in New York when he was born so he was, automatically and technically, a US citizen. Johnson had never given it a second thought. He was British. His parents were British. He was brought back to the UK immediately. He knew he was British, just like all the other British kids he grew up with. But the American immigration officer insisted that Johnson’s a Yank and wouldn’t let him even pass through the US on the way to his destination elsewhere. Perhaps the immigration officer had forgotten the US tossed the Brits unceremoniously out about 250 years ago; why would that same nation want to lay claim to one now? If I had been caught in that net, I'd have screamed exactly that loud and I was about to be deported anyway.

I don’t think, actually, that Johnson renounced. Or at least, an Embassy official I had a conversation with didn’t think he had.

But I have. 

I did not want to die an indentured servant to anyone. I have citizenship, with thanks to my blessed grandmother, in the Republic of Ireland. With Ireland's EU membership, that allows me to live freely in Ireland or any of the European Union member states. As my 65th birthday is now approaching, it seemed high time to get it done, to leave the nation where fate decreed I would be born, and adopt the nation(s)** that choice demands for the feeding of my soul. No one lives forever, not even former Yanks who feltwhen the postie knocked and delivered that CLN yesterday a scant eight weeks after my visit to the little bit of US territory on Grosvenor Square in Londonthat the weight of the world had been lifted from her shoulders.

“I wonder why I should feel this way, this enormous sense of relief?” I asked my husband.

“I think that’s a question that would more properly be posed to the United States government,” he replied.


 * It is permissible to say "What the F?" at this point. I did, as did my husband, a formerly green-carded US person.

** My soul has always longed for Ireland, and for France. I live in the UK now, but I'm less than an hour by plane from Dublin flying from a local airport, and an hour by ferry from Calais from a port not too far up the road. A strategic position, I think. Plus southwestern England is a very Celtic place.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Islamicization of the American Woman

The future of American women if the crack-brained fundamentalist state legislators have their way? Bet on it.              (Wiki Commons photo)

I refused to get serious with a Roman Catholic boy I dated in my late teens because I didn’t want to die in childbirth.

Together, we had seen the movie The Cardinal. In that movie, the Cardinal’s sister becomes pregnant with an unsavoury character and carries the foetus to term. However, it was early days in modern obstetricsthe 1920s or so, I seem to recalland the Cardinal is called on by the doctor to make a decision: Only the mother or the baby can be saved, but not both. Naturally, the Cardinal chose to save the baby.

I got cold chills, removed my date’s arm from around my shoulders, and determined never, ever to marry a Roman Catholic man. Frankly, I didn’t want to die if I experienced a difficult birth and a similar decision had to be made.

By now, some readers are saying, “How selfish. A mother should want to die for her baby.” Possibly, or possibly not. Looked at logically, if the mother dies, then who is to raise the child? We no longer have extended families living under one roof; there is no longer always room for one more.  Nor did it make sense to me to end the life of an adult woman who was fully conscious rather than the life of a not-born baby who may or may not be fully conscious, and whose soulfor those who believe in suchwould reasonably be taken back by god and given a more viable body to manifest within. We are not our bodies; we are souls that take physical form. (There’s a ton of theology, mainstream and other, on the subject which I won’t revisit here, but it informs my personal belief system.)
I have never been pregnant. So no, I don’t know what I would actually do. I suspect, if the choice were mine, I would give up my life for my child. I’ve long  known that if it came to a situation in which one of two people had to die and I was the elder, I would choose to die to allow the younger continued life. Or at least, I think I would. None of us can know until faced with such decisions. I do know I have gone to great lengths to protect and nurture children in my care for one reason or another (relatives’ children, kids I taught to ride horses), going out on a limb at times to buck the system and get for them what they needed.  So perhaps my beliefs would hold firm under extreme duress. As I said, none of us can know absolutely what we would do.

Motherhood foregone
But there’s this to consider: I would have been a good mother. I am well-educated, I doas notedfiercely protect the rights of children in my purview and nurture those who come my way. I learned this from my own mother, who was a sort of reluctant mother in fact, preferring the business world. But she nurtured me and my brother, demanded all the excellence we were capable of, fought for our rights, protected us, and died in a most courageous manner far too young. But I never became a mother. I was the first generation to have The Pill available from the onset of menses, so I really had a choice previous generations had not had. 


My first husband was Jewish, but he was more a secular than observant Jew. So there was little chance he would make a Cardinal-style decision if it came to that. Still, he is a man. So we divorced, mainly because he badly wanted children and I refused to bear any. When I married him, it was a scant three years after I saw that frightful movie. It ruled my sexual life; it ruined my relationships.

My second husband was Presbyterian, a Type A careerist who didn’t care to have children. Whew!  Double whew! Because, as good as he was at his job, I think he would have been a horrible father. 

I didn’t marry my current and final husband until after the biological clock had run its course. He had grown children, so his need for family had long been satisfied, and I was off the hook.

But now my husband’s youngest has had a child, and is about to have a second. Her little girl is the cutest, dearest, sweetest, smartest thing I’ve ever seen. I worry about vaccinations doing her harm. I worry about her young life getting derailed from all it can experience of good, as have the lives of two of her aunts, badly. (You see, my mothering instinct is there…but something interfered with it.) But it won’t happen; my stepdaughter is a good mother, and her husband is a good father. It will be OK. But still, I fret.

So what, then, derailed my willingness to be a mother? The Cardinal. Nothing else. It was the spectre of having my body subjected to the crack-brained concepts of men who had no business deciding where to have dinner, never mind what happens to my bodythe one that is animated by my sovereign soul and which is mine, and no one else’sto operate as I see fit that did it.

Do I think my first husband would have decided in favour of the child over the mother? I don’t know. I doubt if he knows.  But we are actually still friends and he did have two children with his second wife. They are successful humans; he did well.

The second husband probably would have said to croak both of us. And no, we are not friends.

The third? There is no doubt in my mind that, as hard as it would have been for him, he would have chosen the motherwhether me or his late first wifeover a child in a life-or-death decision situation. I say that although he is of a family chockfull of Episcopal (Church of England) clergy, high-church men (and they are all men) who are more Anglo-Catholic in reality. But I will never have need to find out. I can tell you, though, that if he were in charge of his beloved daughter’s life as the Cardinal was of his beloved sister’s, he would choose his daughter. I have no doubt of that.


I didn’t have children because it scared me to death. I didn’t want any manany manin charge of whether I lived or died if it came to that. And, as it happens, childbirth has been troublesome for my mother’s line, so I had reason to believe there might have to be a decision. I spent my childbearing years in a blessed environment of The Pill and, in my twenties, Roe v. Wade. So I really was fairly safe from the depredations of unmanly decisions by unmanly men. But that movie? It chilled me to the marrow and beyond.

And now we’re back to that stage and worse. Menignorant and useless and vicious and unethical and selfish weak menhave opened war against women’s bodies. I wonder how many women will, consciously or not, make the decision I did and refuse utterly to get pregnant, lest they be violated in essential ways by the aforementioned men. 

The Islamicization of American women
Rape victims will be victimized twice; perhaps it will come to women refusing to leave their house without a male escort they trust, like women in Afghanistan do. If a woman in America is raped in future, she will have to carry the baby to term, giving a gift to the man who violated her by casting more of his foul genetic material into the gene pool of humanity, and probably being ostracizedor worseas so many Muslim rape victims are now. Maybe this is the way western civilization is going to be Islamicized; women will become not the Biblical helpmeet of early western civilization, nor the equal partner of a small part of the late 20th century, but a useful but rarely respected beast meant to carry the gene pools of the aforementioned men on into another generation of fools.


For a truly chilling roundup of what's going on in state legislatures as throwback men attempt to wrest control of women's bodies--and thereby the gene pool for generations to come--read this.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Killing Off the Muse

Apollo and the Muses on Mount Helion (Parnassus) by Claude Lorraine (Wiki Commons)

I used to be a writer. I spent hours, days, weeks writing. Mainly, it was workaday journalism. But once in a while, I got to do something lyrical, something I actually cared about. And, while I did have to make some significant effort to sell my work―not having access to a good ole boy network or the ivied handshakes of an educational career at Harvard or the Seven Sisters―it wasn’t that bad. Write a letter to an editor explaining the work one wanted to do, wait for a reply, and be happy or sad. Either way, go on to the next letter so that, if the fates allowed, one would have a relatively continuous string of assignments for which one would eventually be paid.

That was then. This is now. And now, it seems to me, is the time for all good writers of retirement age to, in fact, go into retirement.

If I have to spend one more day murdering my muse―and it’s a wonder the poor little thing has hung on this long―I might as well kill myself. I don’t want to Twitter. I don’t even really want to Facebook, not except to say hello to actual friends. I don’t want to have to collect 5,000 FB friends; how could I possibly even respond to 5,000 FB friends? But I most especially don’t want to buy/download/learn/use programs that force ever more of the remnants that cling to my once-robust, if not necessarily laudatory, muse into the public view by automating the prattle Twitterholics seem to lap up with more alacrity than I lap a tangy glass of Hendrick’s gin these days.

On Twitter and on Hub Pages and on Suite101―all vehicles meant to entice readers to my work for pennies a pop―these poor shreds of my thoughts, feelings, and knowledge sit. They await the next disgruntled millennial taking a whack at them, the next curmudgeonly old fart spitting  through clacking dentures on them, the next member of the middle-range great unwashed heaving a sigh, venturing the comment that they don’t care for such elitist crap as books, and shoving off down the pub for another evening of dendrite murder.

Hemingway drank even though he lived in a world that was still real. He could booze and write. He could go fishing and write. He could talk to people in real time (remember when ALL time was real?) and write.  He could even hunt and kill wild animals and write.

I like Hemingway, but possibly only because he was one of the few decent choices for my thesis in Modern American Literature, so I know more about him than most people do. I abhorred his hunting. And I found his staccato writing style not quite to my taste always.  Plus, there was a certain emptiness exuded by all his work, as if he could not quite grasp what the world, even his own relatively plain vanilla world, was all about. Nor can any of us. But his world rang emptier than most, I always thought.


I have decorated my world the way I write; there are a lot of bits, sometimes all heaped up on one another, sometimes standing apart, but always bound up in the end through conventions of rhetoric or fabric or a bit of cornstarch or flour, depending on whether it’s the writing, the household or the cooking that needs to come to some sort of reasonable and understandable conclusion. It isn’t neat. But sometimes it is pretty in the end.

Sometimes, now for instance, I can see through the entire mess. I can know that I don’t know what I know. I can’t count on anyone, even myself.  And there is nothing for it but a nap, or flinging myself out the back door naked and screaming at the cows peaceably munching grass and looking after the calves they have birthed there the past few evenings.

I probably won’t do either one. I know nothing but writing. In the old days, I knew publishing, too. I knew that a writer with 14 books on her resume, all published by one of today’s Big Six, would at least get a look by an agent. Not these days. Not a nibble, even from an agent who is a friend of my retired agent. I haven’t killed anyone, which is pretty much what super agent Richard Curtis told me ten years ago, when the death of the writer’s life was first underway in earnest, and I had called him to pick his brain. He was very courteous about that, also being a friend of my retired agent.

Perhaps, though, that’s my ace in the hole. “But Richard,” I might exclaim, “I have killed someone. Her name, at one time, was Laura Harrison McBride (although she assumed others for various writerly purposes) and she harbored a muse. The muse was clever, not particularly classic in her approach to writing or creating or life, but she could turn a phrase. And I killed her. I deprived her of air by crushing her under the weight of the Digital World. I ripped her heart out by making her into a self-obsessed searcher for cyber-based fame. I flayed her alive, stripping the verbal meat from her bones to tantalize slavering hordes of readers whose main literary diet consisted of graphic novelizations of fourth-rate films.”

Maybe that’s the book I should write, a book about how the incessant, constant shoving of self-promotion into all our faces―but most of all, into the relatively tender faces of arts and crafts workers―is killing the joy and beauty in our world. How pandering to the lowest common denominator of readers―and a dozen years after No Child Left Behind taught kids to memorize disparate factoids rather than think, that’s pretty darn low―has sent the muse into early onset dementia with not even a palliative drug in sight, never mind a cure.

These days, even the quiet sadness of a James MacNeill Whistler vacating lodgings after going bankrupt―19th century art galleries that represented him having not done right by him AGAIN―would be bandied about the cheap cyberpress to milk it of its value. Not for Whistler, but for the purveyors of cheap cyberpress rags or those to whom he owed money.

Whistler would have been twice trashed. As are we all, now, every day. We are trashed, having to pander to a public ever more jaded and unable to see truth because of glitter or because they have developed a taste for sleaze and a tolerance for lies. Or, if they suspect the truth, running from it because they fear they might have to pay attention to a needful thing for longer than a soundbite. Or they might have to feel something, from disappointment that they have failed to reform the world to joy that a small animal was saved from the grim reaper.

But all that is digression. Here is the crux; if you are an artist of any sort―writer, painter, photographer, musician, other―and were not fortunate nor wise enough to secure your place above the fray before about 1997, nor young enough to have known nothing better than the blitz-promo tactics of the cyber age, then you are finished.

Face it.

Take a job cleaning ashtrays at airports, which at least is honorable work. It would beat being a Twitter whore for a dollar a day from a group of other Twitter whores hoping that their twaddle is better than yours, and that the bagman known as Google Adsense will bless them with a few miniscule droppings in their Paypal account...and not in yours.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sarah Burke: A death that demands we do SOMETHING about universal healthcare

Engraving of an imagined druid's grove. Both yew and oak were sacred to druids, as was the whole earth and everything on it. (Wiki commons)

Some days, you just have to go with the flow.

Today was supposed to be about getting ready for a short, important trip. And about walking the dog since she’ll be caged for a few days. And about promoting my novel (shameless promotion: humorous mystery, Crash Course by Nicky McBride, on Kindle).

But it’s not. It’s about the real needs of people and how those needs have been crushed under the heels of the fearless hunters among us, the recipients of DNA that offers brawn without brain, humanity without compassion and ignorance without respite. In short, the modern corporation man. (NOTE: I will use the masculine pronoun, not because I’m anti-feminist, but because casting females in a role the feminine principle does not support is ludicrous.)

This rumination was occasioned by an article a friend posted on Facebook. The article notes that Canadian half-pipe skier Sarah Burke died in a hospital in the US, meaning her parents are socked with a bill for a couple hundred grand. Had she died in Canadahad an AMERICAN skier died in Canada, in factthere would have been no such bill. In Canada, as in most of developed nations, people are not denied healthcare, nor are they bankrupted when an unavoidable situation develops in which they are given health care whether they want it or not.

Out cold, but not out in the cold. Whew!
About 20 years ago, I was tossed off a horse, knocked out cold, and concussed. I awoke briefly a couple of times; during one lucid interlude, the barn staff told me they had called the ambulance. “Oh, no,” I said. “I’d rather just go home.” Sure. Wouldn’t anyone who had no recollection of what had happened and saw little but a sort of swimmy green jacket? But, though I actually had health insurance at the time because I actually worked for someone else (a rarity), I was so used to NOT availing myself of any sort of medicine that the first thing in my mind when I was just barely conscious (and not for long) was, “NO, please don’t call the medics. I can’t afford it.” I next awoke in the hospital with a friend standing next to me. And then I was out again, thankfully until after the CAT scan. She, a graphic artist, asked to watch it; she told me later I did have a brain. Nice.

Anyway, my little story is as nothing compared to what so many have faced. And further, my little dance with healthcare that time cost me about $600, as had the first of the two incidents I’ve ever had. And both times, I was totally responsible; it wasn’t an illness or disease or disorder. It was my choice to ride crazy horses. And I was damn lucky.

Maybe it is because of that luck that I feel so firmly that it is unconscionable for any society to bankrupt those whose encounters with the healthcare industry are unavoidable, if indeed they get the care in the first place. It might be said that Sarah Burke’s injury was self-inflicted, as was mine. She was engaged, by choice, in a dangerous sport. As was I. As I said, I was damn lucky.

Life is dangerous; So what?
But what of that? Should we never get any exercise, never push the envelope of what humans can do? It is bad enough that you can’t get coverage if you tick the box for riding motorcycles, flying a plane and assorted other things the tunnel-visioned actuaries think are dangerous. I was just lucky there, too; they haven’t figured out yet that riding horses over fences is a dangerous sport.  I just happened, during brief interludes of employment, to be covered by health insurance when a problem arose. But if I could have afforded insurance when I was freelance, I wouldn’t have been denied since equine sports have gotten a pass from the dodos at Theft Coverage USA.

What’s a society to do? Whatever it takes. And that does not include preventing talented people in sports or any human pursuit from fulfilling their life’s work or passion.

Each of the ancient Celtic tribes supported their healers in toto. They also supported their spiritual leaders. And they supported their poets, the keepers of their history and mores, the creators of beauty in words and often music, and sometimes other forms of art. Healers―druids or shamans, if you likehad no other task but to be available to heal members of the tribe. Spiritual guides, ovates, had no other task but to help members of the tribe in their relationship with the earth mother, each other, themselves. Bardspoets, musicians, historians, artistshad no other task but to create beauty and convey from one generation to the next the truth of the tribe.

In no case does America honor its druids, ovates and bards. Oh, sure. Some doctors get amazingly wealthy; is that honoring them? No. It is paying them out of individual pockets for tightly controlled use of their special skills.

Millionaire clergy; contradiction in terms
Some religious leaders become millionaires; is it because their pastoral care is available to all of their tribeor to visitorswho ask? No, it is because they have developed a firm grasp of fund-raising, television, or both.

And some artists become quite wealthy. Look at J.K. Rowling. Look at Angelina Jolie. Look at the late Michael Jackson. Is it because they offer their gift willingly to the tribe that supports them? No. Not at all. In the case of Rowling (one of my favorite rants as some will know), she borrowed from other tribes’ work, and when she got rich, she set about using the courts to ensure others could not profit from any work even passingly similar to her own derivative one. Bona fide bards help other bards to develop, to learn from them the skills and information needed to become good bards, who will in due course be supported by their tribe.

Angelina Jolie finds adoption to be a nice path to fame and fortune, piggybacking her possible acting gift (a druidic calling and worthwhile to society) on her self-promotion gift (a corporate, hunter sort of thing to do. I expect we should just be happy a few children find a home as a collateral benefit.) 

And Michael Jackson, who had a true gift, was so lumbered with the insanities of his family and the lust of his fans that there was no chance he could express his gift for the asking in peace during a long life. As a bard should do.

The Druid model is all we need
It is all skewed. It is skewed in the ways that the powerful hunters think best. It is skewed in the ways that will enable the powerful hunters to choose who the druids, bards and ovates will be, and who in the tribe has access to their gifts, and even which of their gifts will be deemed acceptable by the hunters.

Time to give it up.

In homeopathy, the easiest part of the body to heal will experience recovery first, followed by the deeper tissues, and finally proceeding to the spirit levelto the constitutionand correcting its anomalies. So I think it is right to tackle health care first. For all the misery its lack causes, that lack is not a malady in itself but rather an expression of deeper maladies in the body politic. So, if we correct access to medical care, then next we will begin to truly see what is the matter with our spiritual leadership and take it out of the hands of martinets and oligarchs and return it to the gentle spiritual healers of old who actually cared for their tribe. And once that is on its way to health, maybe we will begin to support the bardsthe poets, artists, musicianswho fill our newly opened souls with joy and who chronicle the way we are for the delight and education of generations yet to come.

It’s a nice dreamI try to live in it at least once a dayand it’s one I’m hoping will come true.