Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Stripped of Committee Assignments! Quelle Horreur

California Representative, and all round asswipe, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) commented on the Matt Gaetz issue. Representative Gaetz (R-Trainwreck) is being investigated for sexual trafficking.  We have a federal law that outlaws taking a minor across state lines for the purposes of sex.

Interesting aside, the age of consent is set by the state. So let's say, for shits and giggles, Representative Gaetz was dating a 16 year old girl in Georgia. That is totally legal because the age of consent in Georgia is 16. But, if he paid for a trip for that same girl to come visit him in DC or Florida (which he technically represents), he would be libel for sex-trafficking because she is under 18 and hence a minor in the eyes of the feds.

Anyway, Minority Leader McCarty says that if these allegations are true, the Republicans would take away his committee assignments. NOT leave Congress, mind you, but take him off some committees. That is quite the sweet ass deal for an (alleged) statutory rapist and sex trafficker.

Way to show some balls, Kev.

It's Wacko Marjorie Taylor Green vs Dr Lowe, the Android from Westworld - Guess Who Wins?

Well if this isn't the craziest thing in days.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Crazytown) has a new theory. Now, it is going to be hard to out crazy her other ones: Parkland and Sandy Hook school shootings were faked, 911 was committed by the US Military Intelligence and California wildfires were caused by Jewish (Rotheschild's) Space Lasers (all real positions espoused by MTG). But she is trying.

With this post she hashes together a variety of crazy ass theories. First, that the vaccine is created by evil corporations to implant a chip inside you. AND That chip is the digital equivalent of the "mark of the best" from the bible. AND that President Biden is working with "Communist Corporations" to require a "Vaccine Passport" to do anything.

Of course, she is batshit crazy, but my favorite line here is communist corporations. Because communism doesn't allow corporations. Although she is entertaining and funny, she is not super smart. Which is hilarious in the aisles of Target, not so hilarious in the halls of Congress.

I wanted to just go off on backwoods Barbie, but then I rad Jeffrey Wright's comment and I could not agree more. That Westworld Robot Doctor hit the fucking nail on the head.

Speaking of Oscar Worthy Best Songs

I don't know how many of you followed my advice and watched Netflix' "Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga". Now, previously I shared the Euro mash-up that was, of course, the most amazing Eurovision song mash up and stars ever! But at the end of the movie (spoiler!) the antics of Fire Saga team (Will Farrell in a very Will Farrell role) doom their Eurovision run. So, the female lead sings about Húsavik, My Hometown.

For this scene they used a professional Scandinavian singer, Molly Sandén (but not Icelandic with that last name), and it is a beautiful song. So beautiful, in fact, that it was nominated for a Best Song Oscar.

But the beauty is the cute ass Húsavik campaign by the city fo Húsavik.

The campaign

The song in the movie

And if you want to see the real singer

The general outrage machine of conservatives (this time spearheaded by Conservatives pushing Republicans, not the other way around) is wound around the axle of Lil Nas X, a very gay, very black and very popular singer.

Lil Nas X has released a video for his single Montero (Call Me By Your Name). It is SUPER gay, both in terms of camp value and outrage value. He gives a (provocative) lap dance to a digital Satan in Hell. Then kills Satan and takes the horns for himself.

I am pretty much convinced it is a brilliant marketing ploy and one he has refused to apologize for. In fact, his apology videos suddenly switch bac to him lap dancing. But one critic (Clay Cane), more aware than I of the queer politics of people of color, has written an amazing summary of the issue and the politics behind it. Read this: It’s great (reproduced from CNN below)

(CNN)Lil Nas X has the performative outrage machine on overdrive.

His music video for "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," which shows the rapper giving a CGI Satan a lap dance and killing him, went viral.Separately, the hitmaker's new "Satan" shoes quickly sold out.

Meanwhile, high-profile pastors are referring to him as a thug and accusing him of Satan worship. The governor of South Dakota tweeted Bible verses at him. A Black conservative, who once pretended to be a Georgia elector, implied the singer's soul was in peril, tweeting "hell is hot." It seems that some conservatives, many of whom famously whine about "cancel culture," are trying to cancel the musician.

Lil Nas X, who was born Montero Lamar Hill, is remaining unapologetic on Twitter. From his reactions to the outrage, it's clear that he isn't afraid of your hell. As Jean-Paul Sartre wrote in the iconic play "No Exit": "Hell is other people."

Among many recent tweets, X wrote on March 27, "i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the s--t y'all preached would happen to me because i was gay. so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves."

Still from Lil Nas X's music video of "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"

This tweet speaks volumes for millions of queer folks, especially Black queer people, who have suffered spiritual and theological violence at the hand of church doctrines. X's words are ones the late, great James Baldwin -- who once wrote, "Because I was born in a Christian culture, I never considered myself to be totally a free human being" -- would admire and support.

Like Baldwin, Lil Nas X is insisting on being totally free. He is turning the devil's mirror on everyone who told him to hate himself. He is refusing to wallow in the "love the sinner, hate the sin" trope, and he is shedding light on the literal hell the people in his community have been put through. For many queer folks, especially youth, hell is right here on Earth, in churches, schoolyards and homes.

The real hell is forged by institutions that oppress and shame, the people in power who uphold those institutions, the people who keep queer youth in spiritual and mental bondage, from the homophobic preacher to the corrupt politician. Sartre was right: Hell is other people.

Hate disguised as Scripture is one reason why so many Black queer youth are suicidal. There is blood on the hands of many churches and social conservatives. Lil Nas X is using his platform to say, "no more."

Still from Lil Nas X's music video of "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)"

If you are a person who follows Christian religious dogma, you know the devil cannot be killed -- not even a devil from a CGI pop imagination. It's rather amusing that people are more offended by Lil Nas X writhing around in red cornrows than actual evil that harms people every day.

Accusations that Lil Nas X is promoting Satan worship are laughable. Artists playing with religious imagery is nothing new, from Judas Priest to Madonna to Marilyn Manson to DMX -- DMX and Marilyn Manson even partnered on a 1998 song called "The Omen (Damien II)," which included the lyrics "Here we are on our way to hell / We're gonna do it, and we do it well." Rather than hurt their careers, these provocateurs became even more famous for blaspheming against the church.

Until recently, it was unheard of for a Black queer artist to be as successful as Lil Nas X. Disco singer Sylvester and Jermaine Stewart, who sang 1986's "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off," were immensely talented but suffered severe career consequences due to their sexuality. Once upon a time, just a rumor an artist -- especially a Black artist -- was gay could ruin their career.

Conventional approaches to commercial viability mandate that Lil Nas X is not supposed to be this Black, this gay and this unapologetic. And yet, he is.

Are the music video and shoes Satanic? Does it matter? Lil Nas X has never publicly declared himself a Christian.

As a result, Lil Nas X's video has only exposed demons in other people. He is a Black queer man dismantling a cycle of shame. While people are calling him blasphemous, he's providing healing for those who admire him. That said, if your God is contingent upon a 21-year-old's music video or a pair of shoes, then your God may not be as almighty as you believe.

The Video itself. Brace yourself

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Another Culture War Teed Up

There is something seriously wrong with the Republican Party. They have no plan for governing at all. So they must sit back and scare people with cultural issues. This normally backfires because it is a sad side show which they try to villainize some group with very little power.

I know. I have been on the ass end of their attempts often, after they moved on from legislating against Black people. They embraced creating villains after the end of Jim Crow. First, of course, it was blacks and equal opportunity. Then it was MLK's birthday holiday (Arizona held back for years and some southern states combined MLK day with a Confederate Heritage Day, just to fuck with Black people).

Then it was hippies who wanted to leave Vietnam. Then it was people who wanted to reduce smoking in public. Then it was women who wanted a "sexual revolution" - which really meant women wanted equal pay and equality that freaked Republicans the fuck out. Then it was women in the Military. 

And then they forgot about governing and only ran on hate. Then it was the gays - remember when they went to the Supreme Court to outlaw homosexual relations. Then it was gays in the Military. Then it was gay marriage.

Now it is transexuals, because gender equality somehow leads to communism. In searching for a problem to scare people with, they are now attacking people who question and sometimes try to change their gender. Whether it is living in the wrong skin or trying to adjust, Republicans hate them. And want everyone else to fear the are coming for you.

They went after bathrooms saying that men who go into Women's bathrooms to rape women. Which has happened zero times. Men have gone into women's bathrooms to rape women. But not while dressed as woman nor as transexuals. In fact, a trans-man, who presents as a man and has taken testosterone, is suppose to use the women's room with these laws and it is crazy.

This tempest in a teapot was roundly ignored. So now they are acting sports and students just to make tans youth fear living. Transsexuals in sports is not a problem. It has been legal in the Olympics forever, and we don't have transexuals holding records.

But I'm not here to say why these attacks are painful and hurtful to children. I am here to say that Republicans are so devoid of ideas for governing, they have nothing to offer except hate and fear. That isn't good for democracy or governing.

Politically they were against deficits, until Donald Trump blew up the budget by trillions. They were all in for war, until Donald Trump pulled out of Syria. They hated Russia and Socialism until Trump french kissed Putin. They now are for... anything?

They are passing laws in states to making voting harder for Democrats. And they oppose everything in Washington including legal voting.

And there are plenty of people that still like Republicans. I do not know why. What are they doing that people like?

My Birthday

 Thank you all for the birthday wishes (if you didn't wish me a happy birthday, no worries; I am all done crying). Eddie made sourdough French Toast for breakfast and we had carnitas (my favorite food) for dinner. It was good.

Rusty celebrating my birthday with an (appropriate) nap

So, we are ready to travel again. And teach. Actually I am teaching in person in 2 weeks in Jersey City. I am vaccinated and all ready for this. I got the vaccine because I teach adults, so this is good. Right now in New York, most people can get vaccinated. It isn't easy to find an appointment, but that is time, not red-tape.

And so, despite the fact this was my 2nd lockdown birthday, I am happy we are moving back towards normal. Soon grasshopper.

Monday, March 29, 2021

You are 16 going on 17

 Look at the birthday card Ed got me yesterday. It has more meaning than you think. you see, UCLA made the Sweet 16 of the playoffs. Now, Ed ave me this card BEFORE the game.

So, if we won it was great! And, if we had lost last night (which we didn't) - I would have blamed him for the woobie! So either way it was an out. Well we won and I am happy.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Finally: Addressing a Yuge Problem in Tennessee

Tennessee has joined Arkansas and Mississippi in outlawing transgender students from sports competition, unless they use the teams that match their sex at birth. 

Thank God this has passed and corrected a problem that has happened in Tennessee for (checks notes) never times. But at least everyone knows that the old men running Tennessee hate the idea of transexuals.

New Law Making It Legal to Turn Away Christians

In Iraq there is a new law that allows doctors to turn away Christians and any other people that the doctor has “conscience-based objections” about the patient. Say, if a woman wants to get birth-control, and the doctor finds it violates his religion, he can turn them away. Or if the woman has been with another man, or woman, the doctor can refuse to even treat her.

There is an option that if it is a life-threatening emergency, then the doctor has to patient, but that is it. How can this happen in the 21 century?!?

Oh wait, I read that wrong. 

It's not Iraq, it is Arkansas. And it isn't Christians, just fags and LGBQ people. That's fine then.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Not A Lament - More An Explanation

Our country was not designed to be a two party system. This system organically grew out of a "first past the post" system, and now the two party system and the governmental rigidity each feeds the other. Let me explain my thinking.

If you think about it, most other countries do not have a two party system. Why? Well, most countries (including those like Japan and Germany where the United States personnel helped write the rules) allow collations to run the government. In a proportional system, national elections usually award more than 1 seat per "district".

Let's take an example like Florida. They have 27 House Members (16R 11D) - 6% of the US House of Representatives. Each one is elected in a single district with the person who gets the most votes winning. 

Now let's pretend we are in Germany. Those 27 members may be elected from only 5 districts with each of the top 5 or 6 vote getters becoming representatives. In this case, you might easily become a Representative with only 10% of the vote (or less). This allows for parties that are more narrow and that might favor conservative economic values and liberal social values (or vice versa).

Once they get to the legislature, these minor parties (think The Greens, or Libertarians) can form blocks that help the most popular items pass.

Other countries (like Israel) don't have districts at all. You vote for a party or slate of representatives in the nation. After the election, the government awards each party a proportional number of representatives (although you have to get at least 3.5% of the vote to get a representative).

In these cases you get more parties and they have to work together to build a coalition. And there is a price for failure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Edgar Allan Poe

University of Virginia Rotunda

When we took our forced trip last fall, when the house was being reworked, we stopped in Charlottesville, VA to see University of Virginia.  One this I was surprised to see was the "dorm" room of Edgar Allen Poe. They have left his room. I think only a very few of the seniors now get a room on the quad, but it was very cool.

Eddie and Rusty on the grounds. The low buildings on the right and left are dorms. The taller buildings were the old classrooms.

Outside on of the old dorms, is the notice that this was Edgar Allan Poe's old room. Room 13 is preserved as it would have looked then. Now they are more cramped, but still each has a fireplace.

Legal Nincompoopery

The lawyer who filled lawsuits claiming election fraud in support of Donald Trump, and who claimed Dominion Voting Machines changed votes to Biden has been sued. She was sued by Dominion for defamation and frivolous lawsuits. Her defense is ... interesting. She said no reasonable person would believe her claims.

Nice way to fuck Democracy then...

Sunday, March 21, 2021

SOME People Should Not Have Guns

I know plenty of hunters and others who have their guns locked up in a gun safe. Plenty of people who have a firearm secured and used only for safety. And those are NOT the people I am talking about. 

These are the people I am talking about...

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Economist Cover

 One thing the Economist has started doing is explaining how they get their cover image lately. I have been reading the economist since college (1981!) and find this fascinating. I am sharing this one because I think the thought and work process is interesting.

Cover Story

How we chose this week’s image

The Economist

Our cover this week sets out to tell the parable of Hong Kong. In a new bill, the mainland government in Beijing has seized political control of the territory. At the same time, financial business is booming there, not least among Western banks. The same pattern of political oppression and commercial effervescence is to be found on the mainland. As China and America stage their first high-level diplomatic meeting under the Biden administration, this presents the free world with an epoch-defining question: how should it best secure prosperity, lower the risk of war and protect freedom as China rises? 
The design problem we faced was how to strike a balance between the example of Hong Kong and the underlying story of the mainland. One promises to be a rich account of the fate of a territory of 7.5m people; the other, though more abstract, is about the great geopolitical question of the age. As you will see, we swung between the two approaches.

One set of ideas focused on democracy. A yellow umbrella was an emblem of the protests that brought Hong Kong to a standstill in 2019. The pathos of a destroyed umbrella lying abandoned makes for a powerful image, but is better suited to a narrative about the past two years than to a package of articles about what happens next. The brolly is better when clasped by a protester, even if the focus is still narrowly on Hong Kong.

Another set of ideas builds on the concept of a dominant China. In the map the mainland is literally eating the territory—as if it were a giant amoeba. But only a few weeks ago we had a cartographic cover featuring red China spreading across the territories of South-East Asia. The morphing flag is fresher, but the symbolism is wrong. The orchid tree on the Hong Kong flag is already an emblem of mainland rule, adopted at the handover from Britain in 1997. No morphing is required.

Here is the hand in another guise, pressing down on a gaggle of protesters. Order is being restored. And next to it the print of the panda’s paw, having performed much the same manoeuvre. The print suggests that China is on the march, which usefully raises one of the questions we are trying to get at: where next?

It was becoming clear that the images alone would not strike the balance between the parable and the underlying story. The words would have to do the work. That thought led us to a shortlist of these three covers.

The image says Hong Kong, the words China. That strikes the right balance. But we felt that this drawing was all about protesters and democracy, which leaves aside the fact that business in Hong Kong is booming even as civil liberties vanish. It is the combination of these two things that our cover package seeks to bring out.

This works brilliantly as a poster, which is often a good measure of a cover. By taking one step back from the yellow-brollied protesters you see Hong Kong as a whole rather than its struggle over political representation. The red subtitle ties China’s brutality into the red paw-print. The drawback is that this cover has no explicit reference to the business boom.

This is less eye-catching, but it is more successful at telling both sides of the story. The suppression of a crowd of would-be democrats creates the space for a trio of financiers eager to do deals. Because we thought some readers might miss that detail, we amplified it by putting a single briefcase-wielding man on the platform created by China’s oppressive hand. 

We chose this design because the cover is not just about the power of China, but also about the fact that China has become a global centre of business, finance and innovation. That is the brutal reality.

Move Along: Nothing to See Here


Ed's Happy Place

So a story...

Once upon a time, Ed and I visited my mom and Nick in Laughlin Nevada. My brother was there as was my sister and her finance (now her husband). Laughlin, like Las Vegas, is big on (very nice) buffets. The casinos subsidizes them because they get players in and out quickly and back to gambling. 

After a day of this, and of Ed putting up with buffets, my mom says to everyone, "What do you all want for dinner?"

And my sister, always charming, says, "You know what I want? I want to sit my ass down, order what I want and have someone bring me my damn food." 

Now, I don't know if anyone was going to disagree with this sentiment because, before anyone could add a thought,  Eddie added, "Amen, sister!"

I think of this when I read this today on CNN's travel section:

It's not just technology that has become touchless, she added. "I don't think the buffet as we knew it pre-Covid is going to come back."
Casual buffet options will still be available, but food will be served by crew members, cutting down on touch points and food waste.

Friday, March 19, 2021

No One Is Trying To Silence Ron Johnson: He Should Be Happy If They Were

Ron Johnson, Wisconsin's Senator*, is an idiot. Note just an idiot, but a fairly evil idiot.

First he said that he wasn't afraid of the white people storming the Capitol, but would have been if they were Black Lives Matter people. Let us remember, that these "good" white people beat many Capital Police Officers, pepper and Bear sprayed others and killed one during the insurrection. But they aren't scary black people so the porcelain-white Senator Dumb Ass wasn't scared (PS - many of the officers keeping him safe were Black).

Now the dip-shit says people are trying to "silence" him. His proof is that people are calling him racist.

So, first, no one is trying to silence you, Ronnie. People are simply explaining that when you say racist hateful things, you are a racist. It's a fact,  and stating that is not trying to silence you.

Second, you should be happy if they were trying to silence you. It seems every time you open that gapping yap of yours, you say something else idiotic, anti-democratic and racist.

You are a racist, cow-tipping ass-hat. And I think you should feel free to let everyone know that. Clearly in your state, it's a positive.

*Wisconsin has an interesting history of Senators. Some, like La Follette (R-Sr. & R&Populist-Jr), Proxmire-D and Feingold-D were very good to fantastic. Others, like the afore mentioned Johnson -IforIdiot and McCarthy -R were the embodiment of ass-hats.

Reminding Myself of the Idea of America

If you have read this, you have seen me get more and more disheartened by my fellow American Citizens. Every now and then I try to pull myself out of it. One of the true representations of hope, for me, are Black Americans.

Americans are a bit different than French, British or Chinese in that all but the indigenous people of this country are adopted by the land. If you are not Sioux or Navajo (for example) you or your ancestors have somehow chosen to be an American. You can buy into the dream and try to be a"good" person, or you can leave. Even the asshole white nationalists are choosing to stay.

Now think of the (majority of) Black Americans. They are descended from slaves. Their choices to come here were made for them. After a century of slavery (and further centuries before we were a country), they were "freed" for a decade or two before Jim Crow laws restricted their lives and their votes for another 80 years!

And yet, they continue to choose to be Americans. Since the voting rights act in the mid-1960s, this group votes in higher percentages than any other ethnic group - year after year. Imagine! Black Americans trust a government that spend 2/3s of its lifespan keeping them as "less than human". Despite all the evidence, they believe in the innate goodness of the American Government and Americans. They still believe in the ideal of America.

And Black Americans fight through the hardship of voting now, because they remember it used to be worse. There were times they could not vote legally. And then there were times we (White Americans) made it impossible even when it was legal. 

I admire that optimism, that hope, that belief that we can and will become better. And, on my good days I try to believe the same thing. I wish I was that strong.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Internet has Shattered My Illusions

LaVar Burton, is an odd choice for a quote, but this is what they sent me. As an aside, my first college year at USC I went to school with LaVar Burton. He had just starred in Roots and was a huge deal on campus. I'm not sure he graduated, but he was a nice guy.

But back to shattered illusions. The Internet (the big one with the Capital I) is a harsh place for all kinds of illusions. Ask the Mormons or the Scientologists.When the internet started I loved it. As a geography / economics geek it opened worlds to me. I could see change. I could (and did) effect it some of the positive change, volunteering at the UN and with a non-profit.

Weather. I've Decided Weather is the Problem

I've decided today that weather is the problem. It isn't, of course, my fucked up brain chemistry is the problem, but indulge me.

You see where and when I grew up, weather was NEVER the problem. I loathed rain days, but they were few and far between, and always during the winter. Tornadoes, hurricanes, snow, freezing rain, sleet, thunder-snow, cold fronts and the host of weather related disasters were foreign for those of us that lived in "The Golden State".

Our big weather "issue" was something called "June Gloom". This is a condition where the early morning is very foggy in June (now May). It is because the air is warm,  but the ocean is still very cold. So overnight a bunch of cold ocean air picks up moisture and "rolls in" over parts of Southern California that have a straight shot to the beaches.

Then it is overcast and only in the 70s until anywhere from 10AM to 1PM (depending on how close you live to the shore), when the fog burns off and the sun shines and temps rise into the low 80s.

THAT, that June Gloom was our big weather bug a boo.

But everywhere else, very much including where I am now, Weather is a motherf*cker. A heartless evil wizard that exists, I believe, to taunt and terrorize me. The end of March has moved from being a perfect LA day, poopies blooming on highways and ocotillo blooming in the desert to a Frankenstein monster of "how can we fuck up Scott's weather" now.

And how's your day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

America Wept

No wonder the spokesman said it wasn't a racist attack and the murderer of 8 women in Asian massage parlors was not racist.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your police department spokesperson in Georgia.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

 It is St. Patrick's Day, the traditional Irish holiday where (at least int he United States) people celebrate a saint driving the snakes out of Ireland by getting falling down drunk and vomiting in the streets. One thing I won't be missing this year.

I wanted to pick an Irish bloke for a picture, and settled on Cillian Murphy. He is a fantastic actor that has been in staring in Pinky Blinders for years. I have never seen Pinky Blinders. I did, however love him in Inception and Dunkirk.

I also saw him live in a one man show (which I normally HATE) called Misterman. It has played in Ireland, London and I saw it in Brooklyn. Oddly, I saw Susan Sarandon at the show. Only now, in investigating Cillian (pronounced sil-lee-an) that I saw he was in a movie with Sarandon right before the show was here. Makes more sense now.

Anyway, Happy Saint Patty's Day tp Cillian and all the Irish out there. And to those "honorary Irish" that wake up with massive hang-overs tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

The Original Chess

Eddie found the original version of Chess on YouTube (below). The version here is the one from the black 2 part concept album, before it was dumbed down for American audiences. It is from a concert with the original players (from that recording) in Sweden.

If you, like me, played it a million times and were then annoyed by the American soundtrack, listen and love...

Monday, March 15, 2021

NOT Virtue Signaling, Seriously Asking

I think the Covid lock-down has effected different people differently. But I wonder if many of us have switched off the "more stuff" phase of our lives. For Ed and I, it did not take the Covid because we downsized to New York and are forced to live in a lot less space.

In LA we had 2 four bedroom houses (Hollywood and Palm Springs) and they were both full of crap. When we moved to New York we downsized, and have been pretty much reducing ever since. We buy new things (shoes, TVs, etc), but we always now get rid of something else when we buy something new. We aren't good people (I mean we are, but not because of this), but we just don't have the space. 

So for others, are you buying less stuff. Is this a product of getting older or a product of lockdowns?

The Limits of Etho-Nationalism

The countries that make up the former Yugoslavia provide a glimpse into the past of the wold, and the future of the Republican Party - given its current trajectory. I have been reading a book about how the successor states of Yugoslavia have maintained the same governing elite, even as the nominal leaders have been either the Ottoman Empire, Austria / Hungary, Yugoslavia or today's semi-Democracies.

Each of these countries is made up of the same ethnicity (Southern Slavic), differing primarily along religious lines and artificial boundaries. But the leaders of each country maintain their hold on government is by appealing to an ethnic-national "identity", like Serbian or Croatian. To be part of the nationality is to vote for that governmental party NOT because it my provide a good government but because it represents your group versus some "other". And their governments are, primarily, crap. they don't govern well, they don't improve the country. They are primarily driven by rewarding friends and taking from the "others" in society. This has a long history in the region, and the region is stuck in the past with lower levels of wealth and public good because of it.

For Democracy to grow, it will require a bottoms up demand of the governed for better government. This is what happened in the color revolutions in the "-stans" from the mid-2000s and in the Arab Spring in early 2010s. The demand from the governed is necessary to drive change in places like Bosnia and Macedonia. In Slovenia and Croatia, the EU itself works as a brake on ethno-nationalism.

In many ways, the Republican party is going the opposite way of history, albeit fairly effectively. The Republican Party now openly trades on being the Party of the "persecuted white Protestant" people, instead of an American Party. They don't promise to rule better for everyone, but to ensure that their beliefs rule everyone else in the country. It is unhealthy in this country that the every discussion becomes a fight of them versus all others. Even, for fuck's sake, the issue of wearing masks to protect your fellow countrymen.

It is sad for the country because, if the Republicans lose they keep telling their base that the "others" don't believe in freedom or America (which is bullshit). And if they win, they are not held to the standard of maintaining a good government, just a government that is better to old white protestants than it is to anyone else.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Pitlochry Scotland (updated)

So, in the lovely Scottish Town of  Pitlochry, which I feel in love with, is a beautiful 8 bedroom bed and breakfast for sale. It's UK$ 710,000. If we got it with friends, that would bring it down. Since it is now a B&B, there are 6 bedrooms with ensuite. So, we could get, like 4 other couples and be cool. Stay whenever we want, have friends over a lot. LINK

And Pitlochry is a lovely city and area. There is a great theater rep in the Sumer. And a used bookstore and lots of shops and restaurants.

Now I know what you're thinking? Who will watch it when we aren't there? We'll find someone in Scotland, I'm sure..

My friend Shelly has approved the plan with 1 minor change. She would like Jamie Fraser to run the house when we are not there...

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Another Reason This Flu Season is teeny-tiny

This flu season has been extremely mild. Health experts think that masks and had-washing that we do for Covid has drastically dropped the amount of flu this year, which makes sense. But there is a mask reason which lowers the flu that is a surprise to the medical field.

If the only change was masks and hand-washing, the flu should still be a bit higher than where it really is. But the have also found a secondary benefit of mask wearing, which is a pain in my ass, but apparently helpful for our health. Masks, particularly in cold weather, raise the humidity in the mouth area anywhere from 50% - 300% (based on actual humidity and weather).

So what, you say. That just means more chances to break out. Actually that isn't true. It turns out that our first line of defense is the mucus membranes of our mouth and nose (you know, snot). Traditionally winter brings less humidity, and heating reduces it further. With our mucus membranes dried out, more bacteria and virus can enter. But masks raise humidity save our mucus and, it turns out, that helps raise our resistance to the flu and other illnesses.

Internesting, yes?

While some rural-dependent brands dump LGBT and CEI - there is Campbells Spoon

 I totally get how John Deere and Tractor Supply felt the need to publicly repudiate their DEI and LGBT support positions; they are, after a...