Ron Ridenour

About Ron Ridenour
Short stories



Tales of absurdities in our times
[September 28, 2014]

1. President Barak Obama spoke to youth on June 11, 2014

“And if there’s one message I want to deliver to young people like a Tumblr audience is, don’t get cynical. Guard against cynicism. I mean, the truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be -- if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time. The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.”


a. The European Bank (EBRD) for 34 countries reports (Politiken, 24/9/14) that the “peace dividends” from the end of the Cold War are used up. The bank says military expenditures are on the rise due to crises in the Ukraine, Balkans, Caucasus. It didn’t mention: Syria, Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Yemen, Nigeria, Sri Lanka…

b. Coalition of the Willing 11 at war again! US bombs Syria and Iraq along with enthusiastic allies. “Advisors”, CIA personnel, private mercenaries, troops of various nationalities are involved. US’s true fast Danish government is at it again, sending 300 troops to Poland and Baltic States along with six “outdated” F-16 fighter jets. Denmark also sent a Hercules transport aircraft filled with sleeping bags and weapons along with 55 “advisors” to Iraq. A few days latter, it added seven F-16s to its war list in Iraq. Denmark cuts billions from health care and education in the last six years while planning to buy 24 to 30 new F-35 fighter jets at a cost of several $billion. Three decades ago, Denmark led the world’s nations in health care facilities and coverage. Today it is in 19th place among the original 22 OCED lands in health care. The so-called red government is cutting out 4000 university courses, 30% of all classes.

All of Denmark parliamentary parties, including the so-called socialist parties (Socialist Folkeparti and Enheds Listen) are for warring again in Iraq, just like they were against Libya. (But EL did not approve of the 7 F-16s.) No Danes were ever punished for allowing their US/UK and Iraqi allies to torture people that Danish soldiers held captive so Danish men have also learned to like torturing people. MetroXpress reported, July 2, 2014, that 37% of Danish men now think that the use of various forms (unspecified) of torture is acceptable if employed to extract information that can protect the public. 17% of women concur.

c. The US is buying 1,763 new F-35 fighter jets to replace the “outdated” F-16s. Cost of about $250 billion. “The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year. Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.” (Global Research, December 25, 2012).

d. Obama sends 3000 military personnel (an undisclosed number are military medics) to West Africa to protect strategic buildings and clinics with Ebola sick people, and to watch out for terrorists. The agro-industry companies taking over much of African agricultural land welcome these troops, who will come in handy since millions of African farmers will be “displaced” as subsistence crops will be replaced by export wares.

e. “Obama is running the biggest terrorist operation that exists, maybe in history: the drone assassination campaigns, which are just part of it…” Noam Chomsky, GRITtv June 2013.

f. Tolerance of others as Obama claims doesn’t seem to be as comforting as do weapons. Each year more weapons are manufactured for both the government’s wars and for civilian use. The 320 million US Americans own 270 million hand guns, not including other fatal weapons. 10,000 are shot to death each year.

g. During the first two years of the bank-created economic crises, 2,500 Greeks killed themselves due to its grip. Two hundred thousand farmers in India took their lives once their lands were depleted of water and nutrition because of Coca Cola’s raping and pollution of their water. US veterans of capital’s wars, unable to find solace either, take similar means toward that ultimate end at a rate of roughly 20 suicides per day since the wars against Afghanistan and Iraq began.

h. The number of people living in poverty in the United States rose to 43.6 million in 2009, the US Census Bureau reported. This is the largest number since the agency began making such estimates 50 years ago and represents an increase of 3.8 million compared to 2008. As of 2010, one in every seven Americans was poor, according to the government’s definition of poverty. The official poverty rate of 14.3 percent is the highest since 1994.

2. Economic crises require severe cut backs on all social services, cry western governments


a. Business has never been so good. Profits soar in the US and Denmark, and many other larger western economies. US corporations’ after-tax profits have grown 171% under Obama as of 2013, more than any other president since World War 11, and at the highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947. Profits are twice as high as at their peak under the supra neo-liberal imperialist Ronald Reagan’s regime.

b. Numbers of billionaires increase to 2,325, 155 more since last year. The greatest number is in USA, from 492, in 2013, to 571. Danish billionaires doubled from six to 11. Big business also pays less in taxes. Obama cut taxes by $750 billion for the rich in 2010 alone. He and Bush bailed out the banks with $13 trillion of ordinary people’s tax moneys, a full year’s federal budget.

c. The military-industrial complex garners extraordinary rates of profit. According to a study by financial advisory firm Morgan Stanley, shares in the major US arms manufacturers have risen 27,699% over the past fifty years versus 6,777% for the broader market. In the past three years alone, arms corporation Lockheed Martin has returned 149% to their investors, Raytheon 124% and Grumman 114%.

3. Be happy, say our leaders and their coaches and media barons. The Danes agree. They top the world year after year as the happiest people.

a. Danes (as well as their big brothers and sisters in the US) use more and more money on their pets. Last year, Danes spent 5 billion kroner, DR news reported (September 10, 14). One cat owner interviewed, of the 900,000 families with pets, has spent 200,000 kr. on her 16 year-old cat to treat its diabetes. Pet businesses increased sales 25% in the last decade.

Lots of US Americans are also glad, at least for their pets. The amount of money used in the US on pets has tripled in 15 years. US Americans spend more than the gross national product of 70 countries on their animals. More money is spent on pets than on toys for children, $60 billion predicted this year, although that sum includes food, gifts, veterinarians and general care.

A growing number of the 180 million cats and dogs have their own groomers, trainers, sitters and walkers. More are fed expensive organically grown foods, and stay at hotels while their “parents” are on vacation. 62% of all homes have one or more pets, including 160 million fresh and salt water fish, 11.6 million reptiles, 18.1 million small animals, and 20.6 million birds—add 8.3 million horses, which do not spend much time in the family home. (Taken from articles in Time magazine, AP, Bankrate).

The number of surgical face lifts for pets (mainly cats and dogs) surged from the first 30 removals of eye and ear wrinkles five years ago to 260, reported The Telegraph in London, August 19, 2014. A month later, The Telegraph could inform us that George, a 10 year-old goldfish underwent emergency surgery to remove a head tumour. His Australian owner said that his other pet fish were bullying George so he had to get the abnormity removed. The surgeon, Dr. Tristan Rich, was even interviewed. He said George could live many years after the successful surgery.

Business Week reported, August 5, 2007 that a “patented testicular implant (Neuticles) that sells for up to $919 a pair” is used to “let people restore their pets to anatomical preciseness after neutering.” Seven years ago, 240,000 pairs of falsie testicles were sold, some were donned on prairie dogs, water buffalo and monkeys.” Total sales are now half-a-million pairs.

b. Alienation is skyrocketing in Communist Party-led capitalist China, as well. While poverty still overwhelms hundreds of millions of people, China now has the world’s second greatest number of billionaires, 190. Yet a new trend among many teenagers in Beijing and other large cities indicates that contradictions between communist egalitarian rhetoric and profit greed reality have reached a pinnacle. The media reports that instead of keeping pets, an expensive enterprise, loneliness is being combated by taking an iceberg lettuce head for a walk. According to Ritzau, May 8, 2014, The Austrian Times interviewed a Beijing University psychologist who said that it helps to have something to talk to, even a lettuce. One lonely girl, Luis Ja Chen, is quoted to say:

“I feel that I can transfer my negative thoughts to the lettuce when we take a walk. I feel better afterwards.” Hey, whatever works!

Alienation resulting from capitalism’s embedded individualism culture is also affecting senior citizens in China. The lack of showing traditional respect for the elderly by younger people is escalating to such an extent that the Communist party has started a media campaign reminding Chinese of their culture. But that didn’t prevent an elderly man from dying of a heart attack, September 10, after he argued with a young bus passenger about who should have a seat. The youth refused to give up the seat; the old man slapped him and collapsed from anxiety. This episode in Zhongzhou was the most discussed subject on Chinese websites that day.

c. Alienated people not keen on nestling with lettuce heads can look forward to when, in 15 years, robots will take over much of our lives, even making jokes and flirting with us, Metro Xpress reported, February 24, 2014. Technology researchers foresee that computers will be able to learn who their owners are and with experience come to know them better than they know themselves.

Not long from now, machines and people will converge, according to the idea of “singularity”. The so-called Turing test will be a reality by 2029, wherein machines can exhibit intelligent behaviour. Google has the world’s most intelligent laboratory already and is developing such robots.

d. But if search machines flirting with you is not your cup of tea you can hire an 85 year-old prostitute in England for 2.200kr an hour (about $400). When Sheila Vogel-Coup’s husband died, she felt lonely so she began the trade four years ago. “I love sex. Just thinking about it makes me feel better,” the oldest sex worker in Britain tells the media. (MetroXpress, May 21, 2014.)

That is a lot healthier medicine for loneliness than what US American Kenneth Douglas admitted to recently. The 60 year-old night watchmen in a Hamilton, Ohio morgue told a judge that he had sex with 100 female corpses between 1976 and 1992. But, he added, he only did so after drinking alcohol or taking crack. Some of the women had been murdered. He took them out of a freezer the same day of their death, pulled down his pants and climbed on them. (Court confession, August 15, 2014, as reported by the UK’s Daily Mail.)

(Readers can send me examples of extreme alienation or absurd contradictions of our times at: . I’ll collect them and may share them with all readers.)

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