Monday, January 31, 2022

As our good friend Suzanne would say, "Well that's a clusterfuck"

 From up high, traffic is sad, but funny. Looking out our window we just watched this.

So, three delivery trucks are double parked as they are delivering stuff. Yes, double parking is as regular as it seems on TV. Then a double length bus (which Ed hates with a passion) trid to turn left. Then everything clogged up and just stopped for 10 minutes.

The 3rd delivery truck (behind the FedEx van) couldn't turn because that little grey car was there. That changed when the truck crashed into the little grey car trying to turn and everyone ran out to see the fracas. Finally the little grey car scouched back a little, and the big truck left and the bus was able to go around the corner. But not until they backed this intersection up long enough to back up the intersections on each side.

Fun.

Quiet Day

 It is a very quiet day today. So nothing much to post. 

I don't want to go off on anything, so here is a house I want. This time in Northern Cyprus. I'm not going to get it, or even see it, but you know how I dream...

This. is a 3 bedroom, in a complex with 7 pools. It is US $ 90,000. I think it is totally cool. Now, of course, I've never been to Northern Cyprus but when has that ever stopped me. And, yes, it does drive Ed crazy that I get inspired by house porn.




Sunday, January 30, 2022

Vamos Rafa

He is amazing. 13 years after winning the Australian Open, he wins the Tournament again! Apparently age IS just a number (like until 40, then not so good).



The Craziness Spreads to Canada

But I think they copied the Trump flags (minus the confederate one, of course - even they aren't that sick).

This tweet is from a 7 term member of the Canadian Parliament:


Saturday, January 29, 2022

Yes it is snowing, No it is horrible (yet)

Hello,

As of 11:00 it have been snowing almost 12 hours, but it isn't horrible. I think the wind is the bigger deal.



Friday, January 28, 2022

What is an "Illiberal" Democracy? UPDATE

Lynn added a great point, so I will ad it here, not just in the comments. It is below in red.

One things that worries worry-warts like me is less a fascist takeover, than a slow slide to an Illiberal democracy. So what is an illiberal democracy. First and foremost, it is a term that was defined by the Hungarian President to describe his own version of democracy. Fox News' personalities, particularly Tucker Carlson, have praised this government along with ex-President Donald Trump.

Viktor Orbán giving Trump some tips

The term correctly covers 3 of our allies in NATO now and two are members of the European Union, which is having serious trouble dealing with them: Hungary, Poland, and Turkey.
Hungary was the first of these. Viktor Orbán even coined the term to describe his version of democracy versus the "west".

It involves a few aspects - and I will point out where America is on this scale, and why it freaks me out.

  1. In all 3 countries, the new ruling party and Leader was elected at first - usually with a plurality of voters not a majority. That is for these leaders they did not get a majority, but more than anyone else. So there was a validity to their original election as leaders.
    In the United States we have a system that, in 2016, installed Trump with fewer votes than his opponent. This is not the first time America has done this, but it is the first the loser acted as if he had a mandate.
  2. In all 3 countries a minority government was able to strong arm the legislators to fulfill their goals.
    Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. Tax on blue states via limiting tax reductions for state and local taxes. 
  3. In all 3 nations, the rulers have ousted most or all Court Judges to install their own loyal judges.
    This has NOT occured in the United States. We did get a lot of conservative justices under Trump, but there was no serious movement to remove current judges at the Federal Level.
    On #3, although no judges were removed, McConnell refused to hold senate hearings on Obama Supreme Court nominees 9 months before the next presidential election but allowed a hearing and confirmation on Trump's nominee Amy Barrett less than 2 months before the election. Not strictly but sort of illiberal.
  4. Taking over the Press. Theses 3 countries have accomplished this in two ways. Some opposition television and newspapers were shut. Others were nationalized and now only show information that supports the regime. Turkey has also completely limited internet access.
    Trump did not attempt to seriously close press access.
    He DID screw Amazon because he didn't like the Washington Post (Amazon founder owns the WaPo). He DID call anything he didn't like "Fake News" and discredited liberal and independent news outlets.
    He and Republicans did try to muzzle Twitter, Facebook and YouTube even before two of them kicked Trump off the platforms.
    Trump also supported two new news organizations he could successfully manipulate, OWN and NewsMax. He also found a echo chamber in Fox News, but that is true of any Republican talking point.
  5. To maintain support, all have identified and vilified some group to be the "others". In Hungary , this is migrants and gays. In Poland, migrants and gays. In Turkey, Kurds and secularists. The thrust is that it easier to manage a population that believes it is being "attacked" by others.
    Yes, this is super-Trump. He vilified Mexicans and Muslims before being elected. After election, any refugee, any gay person, people granted asylum before he was elected and blacks, among many others.
  6. Use of defiance to international norms as a source of pride and "not backing down".
    Yep. America leaving the Paris Accords. Proposing to leave NATO, and not committing to its principals. Support of Putin, Xi and the illiberal  leaders.
  7. Finally. purging and then taking over the military.
    In America the military is already divided, but there was no takeover. In fact, that probably saved us on Jan 6th. Moral military leaders. Most military officers try to stay out of politics.
Unlike historical illiberal leaders though, none of these countries has pulled out of our military alliances, nor did they ally with our enemies. This is the primary difference between these leaders and Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin (until 1948).

"The Free World" ->

"The Free World" has become a coded word that is used to describe the allies of the United States. It is now viewed as a relic of the Cold War and the minds of neanderthal thinkers. Is some instances, it is a negative description designed to highlight that much of the "Free World" is not free for many people in that live there.

Before this new use, "The Free World" was a descriptor for the division of allies of the "Democracies" / allies of capitalism and the "Commies" / ie. "Second World" of Communism  and Socialism directed economies. The "Third World" was made up of countries that either not a strict allies of either side (like India at the time), or countries we just didn't care about (like Paraguay and The Congo). 

Note: before that, The Free World was defined as those against the Axis Powers - Germany, Italy and Japan.

It's use has fallen out of favor because 1) it divided the world into opposing camps and 2) the movement of China from out the USSR camp made the distinctions too muddy.

So, I was happy to read Bret Stephens' opinion piece the other day in the NY Times. First, I don't usually agree with hm. He is one of the Times' more conservative writers (small c -as in not a Republican shil, but a more moral conservative - i.e. believes in science). But his one of the few conservatives whose opinion I take seriously, even when I disagree.

AND, his last opinion piece I totally agree with. He stated that the situation in Ukraine has driven home  the need for some sort of association of democratic countries. And he believes that the "Free World" should support each other. He does NOT mean that it must be militarially, but it does mean that morally we need to do everything short of sending in the military. You can read the entire thing here. But I will pull out what I think the most salient points of the article are:

The free world is the larger idea that the world’s democracies are bound by shared and foundational commitments to human freedom and dignity; that those commitments transcend politics and national boundaries; and that no free people can be indifferent to the fate of any other free people, because the enemy of any one democracy is ultimately the enemy to all the others. That was the central lesson of the 1930s, when democracies thought they could win peace for themselves at the expense of the freedom of others, only to learn the hard way that no such bargain was ever possible.

The concept of the free world is not a perfect one — its constituent states are so often imperfect. It can be prone to overconfidence (as in Afghanistan) or strategic incoherence (as it was, for several years, in the Balkans) or bitter division (as it was over the war in Iraq).

But it would be foolish to think that the loss of Ukraine would mean nothing to the future of freedom elsewhere, including in the United States.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

The Odd Allies Who Are United in Not Supporting Ukraine

In America a very odd alliance has occured between those constituencies that do not support Ukraine in it's fight with Russia.


It is, at the very least, ironic. Ironic because in most other situations they are diametrically opposed to each other's opinions.

Hard core Trump Republicans (the majority of them now) no longer see Russia as a threat. You know, because Trump loves Putin (seriously). So they are opposed to supporting Ukraine as Russia takes over parts of the country and threatens war to take more.

Hard core progressives generally don't want to get involved at all in foreign situations at all, and are definitely against it in this instance since it might pulls us into a dumb war.

I understand both sentiments. But it is an odd alliance of interests.

This is NOT an "Outrage Of The Day" post

Recently, whether one noticed or not, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to NOT focus on whatever nonsense the Right Wing Politicians have regurgitated up like some high chair bound infant. It has been much easier on my psyche to ignore all that shit.

So this post, although it looks like the outrage of the moment, it is not. It is indicative of a pattern of thinking that goes to the heart of Republicans diacotamy. It is indicative of the "freedom for me, but not for you" pattern of selfishness / fascism. Let me explain.


What Senator Johnson (R-Wisconsin) is saying out loud was also said by Senators Rand Paul (R-TN) and Joe Manchin (D - WV) as well as others (almost all the others Republicans). It has also been repeated by the governors of the two biggest Republican states, Texas and Florida. 

To quote Senator Johnson's words directly, “People decide to have families and become parents. That’s something they need to consider when they make that choice.LINK Which I might understand, except for their other actions around contraception, childbirth and education of said children.

What the Senators and Governors are objecting to is a tax credit of $3000 per child per year - started during Covid. These payments have reduced the number of children in poverty by 3,000,000 (link). Three million! That is more children lifted out of poverty than the entire population of Chicago or Houston or Phoenix. Or Phoenix and San Diego COMBINED. The support would be phased out after a family income of $75,000 a year - gross (i.e. before taxes).

(More after the jump)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Instagram Posts "OverHeardLA"

There is an instagram account called Overheard in LA (overheardla), which offers an uncanny look at LA discussions. Mainly in the white, upperish class in LA (seems to focus on Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Hollywood).

For those of you who have lived or live in LA, they are funny.

***

Man to friend: "Things have been crazy lately." 

Stranger: "It's the Santa Ana winds, man."

Man: "I'm not into that astrology shit."

***

"In the past three months, she has managed to go to New York, Vegas and Central America, but somehow was unable to meet me for a drink in West Hollywood."

***

*Lactaid pills fall in front of waiter

Waiter: "If that's a valium can I have one?"

***

"Well I don't go to therapy, but on Saturdays I smoke a lot of weed and give my cat some catnip, and we talk about the world. It's basically the same thing."

***

"I'm feeling normal ... It's like the world's anxiety is finally at the same level as mine.

***

"LA is weird. I make a new friend just waiting in line at the juice bar but my neighbors of 3 years ignore me in the hallway."

***

Dry Bar Receptionist: "Excuse me, you need a mask."

Woman: "Oh my God! I'm so sorry.. I'm from Orange County."

***

True friendship is knowing that your friends would pick you up from LAX, but you care about them too much to ask them to do that."

Good Environmental News out of Northern California

For those that don't know, Redwoods in California come in two flavors. Sequoias which are massive and extremely tall trees lie in a narrow elevation band of 5,000 to 7,000 ft in the Sierra Nevadas. This is were Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite stewards groves of Redwoods. And where the Giant Sequoias get the weather they need to reproduce.


But there is another type of Redwood. I don't know the official name, but we generally refer to them as "Coastal Redwoods". They are smaller trunk, but just as tall.

There is a grove of Redwoods that still stands just outside of San Francisco. But these trees are mainly now confined to the far Northern California coast. These Redwoods were also decimated by logging, even more so than Giant Sequoias, because they were out of sight to most of the public.

Well, after years of trying, a eco nonprofit got the owners of one of the last untouched stands of Redwoods (about 200 acres) to sell. The funds were provided by Pacific Gas and Electric (the NoCal utility) to purchase the land. Sure a green-washing, but one I can get behind.

The land has been transferred to Native American ownership. They were settled on the land originally, before European settlers came (Russian, then British, and then American). They have been excellent stewards of the land north of this, which the nonprofit bought and turned over to them in 1997.

It is a good story you can read here.

It is a great news story as the Redwoods are now protected by the tribes (that do not log them). This also helps to save an ecosystem with a number of endangered species. 

One of the species I never heard of is the Marbled Murrelete. This is an odd little seabird that actually lays eggs in a forest. Most use rocky coastal regions to nest. Anyway a picture is below, but I think they are cool looking.


Again, let's step back

Oh my, two dispassionate posts in a row - I haven't been this level headed since I said most* voting laws won't change the outcome. Note, this post is not meant as a knock to Fox News, Mr. Collins or the thousands of people that refuse the vaccine for a myriad of reasons.

Shamgar Connors has been pulled off the kidney transplant list because he will not get the Covid vaccine. He is now a bit of a Conservative hero, appearing on Fox News, Newsmax, and various podcasts. link He is seen as a brave soul to millions. He seems like a stubborn and proud man to me.

Because if we actually listen to the Doctors and Medical Board, there is a rational reason for taking him off the list. Once you get a new kidney, the body has to reduce it's immunity through chemicals so that your body does not reject the new kidney (or other transplanted organ). If you reduce the body's immunity, you also remove the ability to fight off Covid.

Taking the vaccine would helps the body survive the transplant. And the doctors believe that if you are not going to take the vaccine, then you are refusing the take care of the new kidney and your body. The patient now has a massive vulnerability and their odds of not surviving afterwards go up astoundingly.

For the people who provide a kidney for transplants, why should a kidney go to someone who doesn't take care of it, versus someone who does. This is also the open stance of the medical board. Because the medical profession's goal is to save lives, not work with someone who actively puts themselves at risk AND removes the possibility for another person to successfully live with a transplant.

Now Shamgar's point is that "nobody can say the vaccine is 100% safe". Which is true, but is even more true that a kidney fucking transplant is not 100% safe, or even 75% safe. He has stage 5 kidney disease that is terminal and been on the waitlist for 3 years. He has CHOSEN to be booted from the transplant list.

It is his choice to not get vaccinated. Just as it the hospital's choice (actually the medical board's choice) to take him off the transplant list. He has chosen to put his life in known and absolute danger, rather than taking a vaccine that over a billion people have taken safely.

It is also his choice to leave his two children fatherless and his wife a widow. It is a sad situation where a man chooses to be a martyr rather than a father and a husband. Particularly since a shot would have allowed him to get the transplant. But, ultimately, it is his choice. If you reverse the situation, I would forgo the Covid vaccine - if it meant I would definitely have a chance to live longer with my husband.

He has not been "denied" a transplant or a place on the waiting list. He has chosen to remove himself after being told the consequences of his decision.

* In this sense, MOST does not include those laws in states that allow the legislature to overturn the popular vote.

Here I am Preaching What I Cannot Do, but I try...

In this post, I will preach what I can rarely do. But try this with me as a thought experiment.


Lia Thomas was born a man. She has since come to the realization that she has always been a woman, mentally, and then underwent hormone treatments to remove her testosterone and build up here estrogen so she can also be a woman physically. Which, good on you, Lia.

But Lia is also a competitive swimmer at Penn, an Ivy League University (which tends to mean the students are smart, but not so athletic). In that conference, she is winning - a lot. 

For the media the basic question is, is it fair for a trans athlete to compete with women who were born physically women? Even if Lia now has little to no testosterone now, is it still an unfair advantage? 

My personal opinion, for what it is worth, is that Lia does have an advantage. Despite her transitioned body now, her musculature was developed as a young man. Seeing her, I see a woman, but a woman with male frame. I COULD BE WRONG. But that is how I see it.

But now, let's step back and look at it from a dispassionate distance. And the answer must be for me, "Who the fuck cares?" Is it an unfair advantage? Probably, but in a GAME. A University Sport should NOT be all that different that red light / green light when you are six years old. It is a game. It was not designed to bring prestige or profit (and swimming does not bring profits, even now). Most college sports were created as games between Universities. Designed to bring schools' students together for a shared experience. Not designed to be fought over in courts.

I get that we forget this motivation; particularly people like me that love college football or basketball. And these two sports have moved - rightly or wrongly - into massive monetary status and a pipeline to the professional athletes.

Most college sports are not (and should not) be more than what they are now. People PLAY games. Even college games, like women's ice hockey or men's water polo. Lia isn't going to make money from swimming.

So the question should be are the students having fun? And I get that winning is more fun than losing. But either one should be PART of the university experience, not your entire purpose.

And, if often seems that the great majority of people actually playing these sports have no problem with Lia, or the rules. A few do, and more of the parents do than the students. But it is a game, not the purpose of college.

Having said that, UCLA just beat U of A (Arizona) which was ranked 3rd in basketball. Go Bruins!

Can you tell the temperature from this picture

I get up and look out the window, and most mornings look like this.

It is a great view and all, but it is no real help telling the temperature. I hate to compare to LA (I don't really, but everyone else hates it when I do it, so I pretend to feel bad about it). Anywho, in LA, if it is that sunny, and cool, it's probably low 60s and will heat up soon. If it colder than that, it will be overcast. Warmer that that people would be out jogging.

But in New York, you have no idea. This image was taken when it was 22 F ( -5.5 C), but it was the same at 8 F (- 13 C) last week and 55 f ( 13 C) the week before that.

It is very confusing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Wow, that's a bad color

While engaging in a little house porn, I came across this number. Now the house is nicely done, if a horrible layout. But it is this bathroom tub that screamed for attention.


The stunning self-entitlement of major athletes

Three of our most famous athletes right now refused to get vaccinated and expect the world to accommodate them. They are self-entitled fucks. As old Dragnet would say "Here are their stories."


Aaron Rodgers, last year's most valuable player and Quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. Aaron tested positive for Covid during the season and missed two games. After lying about being vaxxed.

Almost everyone loved Aaron Rodgers. He was nice, he was humble, hell he hosted Jeopardy!  And he entertained us all with a wild personal life: he was with actress Olivia Munn, then actress Shailene Woodley - who just dumped him for being too jealous and controlling - and has lived with his male best friend for years and years.

Well at the beginning of the year he answered press question "Are you vaccinated?" He said, "Yeah. I am immunized." Well that was a lie. He had not been vaccinated. 

Then he went on multiple podcasts to cast doubt on the vaccines, talked up horse medicine and generally didn't believe this was a pandemic despite 800,000 dead in the USA. He is a natural immunity believer, which does not work with regard to the Omicron variant.

Turns out lots and lots of fans were in sad shock. And Jeopardy has dropped even the hint of him replacing Alex Trebek because, you know, the whole anti-science thing. 

 

Novak Djokovic.  He's always been kind of a dick anyway. He doesn't believe in Covid and really doesn't believe in the Vaccine. For example, in 202 at the height of Covid, he held a tournament in the Balkans: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. Well that was the idea anyway. Teh tour cancelled after 2 cities because everyone got Covid.

But that didn't matter to Mr. Tennis #1 seed. After the vaccine was developed and shared widely, the Australian Open said you could not come into Australia if you weren't vaccinated. OR if you had Covid in December and could not get the vax.

Djoker sent a legal immigration form in that 1: He did have Covid in December (this, by the by, was changed on his "official" records by a Serbian doctor from Negative to Positive). 2: Did not have contact with others after he found he was positive 3. Had not travelled internationally before the tournament.

Turns out all 3 were lies. He was kicked out of the tournament, but he claims it was political. Which might be true as Australians have been locked down for 2 years and were pretty much united he was a dick, but none of it would have happened if he didn't lie.


Kyrie Irving plays basketball for the Brooklyn Nets. Well, not in New York or Canada because they require vaccines to go to large arenas.

Now, while this is selfish and entitled, I do have to give Kyrie credit for not lying. A basic level of decency that Rodgers and Djoker could not meet. So Kyrie plays only on the road. Where, a week or so ago, he got into a verbal fight using words not fit for a family blog with a fan over his status.

There are more, but these are pretty famous assholes.

What the hell is this?

I was walking to Bed, Bath and Beyond the other day and I took the shortcut through Lincoln Center.  In front of the Opera House - in Moonstruck it is the big building past the fountain - I saw this. One hopes it is temporary. (Turns out it was installed at the end of 2019.)

Now I know it is "art" and looks quite ...ah... bright? But the question is, what the hell is it. This view is from the slight side. But looking at it straight on is not better (see below).

It looks to me, after quite a bit of pondering, like two or three people, turned to gold (that you Dr. Goldfoot) and merged, via some alien process, with steel beams turned gold as well.


"Yikes", one might say.

A review from the Observer explains this work by George Condo...

Now, Condo has stepped into this artistic tradition with a golden sculpture that somehow evokes deities, lowly human performers and the anxiety of life in 2019 simultaneously. The figure, which resembles a head that’s been deformed by conflicting desires, is also pockmarked and pitted as though it’s been riddled with projectiles. There’s a distinct majesty to it too. “I took it out of the realm of gods and wanted it to echo the feeling of our time, with this idea of a constellation of voices—when so many people have taken to the streets and want to be heard,” Condo told the New York Times.

Condo’s work is often luridly cartoonish and sexual, but this aluminum and gold sculpture works for him on an earnest level that he engages with perhaps more rarely. 

Earnest? Majesty?

Looks like it was  done a rich child shoving playdough people together then dropping it in gold flakes. But maybe it's me.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Easy Breezy Week-end

 This weekend was pretty easy and breezy. 

Friday night (the night of Ed's birth), we had a friend over and had Killer Shrimp. For those that don't know, Killer Shrimp used to be a great and cheap place for a communal dinner. Communal is pretty much a no no know, so we made it for just 3 of us. It was great.


Our friend bought desserts for Ed's birthday, we sang and much merriment was had.

Then on Saturday, Eddie was feeling a bit housebound, so we went to watch The Kingsman at Alamo Drafthouse. It is a nice theater and, because they serve drinks and food, there is a lot of space between seats. Of course we wore our masks, and we felt pretty comfortable here.


The Kingsman itself was odd. (No spoilers)

I've seen the other two - this was the third movie, but a prequel so it is the start of the brand. And yes, I have some thoughts.

First, the actor who played Rasputin chewed scenery like he hadn't eaten in years. Over the top doesn't nearly begin to describe it. He was played by Rhys Ifans - the crazy roommate from Notting Hill. He was unrecognizable as Rasputin, but just nuts.

Ralph Fiennes is a fine actor, but as a master of karate, guns, swords, horses, cars and planes, it was more than a bit unbelievable. He's 59, looks a bit older (not that there's anything wrong with that :-) and doesn't seem the part of youthful killer. Albeit , the character only became a human weapon after his turn at pacifism resulted in deaths and injuries of his loved ones. 

It was not as gory as the first two (even though those were fake gore). But it wasn't nearly as engaging either. I do not think those two things are related.

Friday, January 21, 2022

And, now for something complete different

I don't know if you have seen the new M&Ms design and logo. But if you haven't, here is a tres funny piece Alexandra Petri. Her sarcasm ; ON

Opinion: 9 questions I have about the new, more ‘inclusive’ M&M mascots


1. Am I still allowed to eat them? So Mars has decided to rebrand the M&M candy mascots to create a “sense of belonging and community.” The green lady M&M will be less defined by her sexuality (a phrase I can’t believe I just typed). The orange M&M will embrace his anxiety; he will also tie his shoelaces now. And the red M&M will bully less. They will also, generally, be defined by “personalities, rather than their gender.” (I’m sorry, I just noticed myself writing the phrase “the mascots for M&Ms, lentil-shaped chocolate candies, will be less defined by their gender” and it is all I can do not to jump into the sea.) But they are still for eating, though? They are more accepting of one another and their own issues, but at the end of the day, they are still for eating, right? I can still eat them?

2. Who wanted this? Who, looking at the troubles that beset us in the Year of Our Lord 2022, said, “What needs to be fixed is that the M&M candy mascots are not well-rounded enough, except in the strictest, most literal sense. I demand that someone fix this, or I will never … eat them again?" What life is this person leading? Can I have this person’s life?

3. Are they still cannibals, though? I thought one of the traits of the M&Ms was that they ate other M&Ms. Is this still a trait, or now that they are “throwing shine” rather than “shade,” is that gone, too? On the one hand, cannibalism doesn’t seem like a very “throwing shine” thing to do, but on the other hand, I don’t understand any of this.

4. Do they not want me to eat them?

5. Sorry to keep harping on this, but usually when you’re about to eat someone, and then that someone interrupts to tell you a detailed backstory about himself and how he’s finally coming to terms with his anxiety or he’s realizing the impact his bullying had on other people, it’s not so that you still feel good about your decision to eat him. I think the response that usually evokes is “No, no, you are way too anthropomorphic now, and I could not possibly eat you any longer.” But then again, I do not even like reading the tag on the free-range turkey explaining how nice his life was before he was handed to me, and that is supposed to make me feel better about eating him.

6. There is always something suspicious about mascots who are the very thing they are trying to convince you to eat. What special dispensation have they received? What hideous sacrifice have they made in order to be spared?

7. Do these personalities still apply when they have peanuts inside them?

8. How is designing M&Ms that better reflect the world before I eat them supposed to be a sign of progress? Isn’t there something kind of quietly devastating about the fact that the anthropomorphic chocolate I just devoured had a rich inner life and feelings and was the sort of entity a corporation thought might relate to Gen Z? Is it good that, before I devoured them, I knew that they had made huge strides toward self-acceptance? Does it improve the flavor?

9. But they are still for eating, though, right?

My Honey's Birthday

 It is my Eddies' Birthday today. The double nickel. The slow down and save lives. The we drive at 55. I would have great empathy, but in the 7 years since my 55th birthday it has been lost. Along with my youth, my metabolism and my car keys.


S'cute as hell.

But, as one of the Bronx Betties said, " I love him so much..."









And now, as the Bronx Beat Girls Would say, I  (sniff) love him ... so much..

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Rule of Unintended Consequences

 And here we have the problem allowing people to discriminate against fags.


Biden's Mistake on Ukraine

Yesterday President Biden held a news conference. During the conference Biden answered a question about a possible US Response to a Russian invasion of Ukraine this way... (NBC):

Biden said Putin “will be held accountable” and has “never have seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed” if Russia makes further moves against Ukraine. He added the U.S. would increase its troop levels in the region, including in Poland, keeping with obligations under the NATO treaty.

But Biden appeared to hedge his threats, distinguishing between a "minor incursion" and a full-blown attack.

"And it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do," Biden added.me

Why is that a bad answer? To me, and many others, it all but invites Russia to move in a "minor" sense against Ukraine. What does that look like? I don't know, but I know what the previous "minor" incursion looked like.

Now: Actually Biden's comment is understandable in light of the past incursions. Crimea has historically not been a part of Ukraine. It was a "gift" from an ex-Soviet Premier to Ukraine's administration. But there are not only over 90% Russian on the peninsula, but it also housed Russia's Black Sea Naval Station Sevastopol and access to the Mediterranean. 

But the green-light to "minor incursion" was assine.

The two or four provinces Russia now controls are also 75-90% Russian.

But historically Ukraine has been a part of Russia. In fact Kiev (or Kyiv) was the first Russian capital. It was in the Soviet Union or Russia for hundreds of years. How much should the Russias take or control of another country? With the world seeming to move towards division of countries based on nationality, this is a bad precedent. 

Countries that have divided along ethnic lines have included Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia), Yugoslavia (6 new countries), Sudan (Sudan and south Sudan), Somalia (now 3 divisions) in addition to the 13 new nations out of Soviet Union. Does that mean the we give a free hand in all cases?

Supreme Court Score 1 to 1 (with 1 tie): Four Opinions Still outstanding

In the big world of scoring and watching the Supreme Court, I am watching the outcome of (to date) 6 major decisions. It should have been 5, but – well, you’ll see.

Score to date:

Good Guys 1 | Bad Guys -1 |Tie  -1 |Unresolved – 4


Emergency Stop of the Texas Abortion Ban: Bad Guys +1

Everyone has their opinion on the Abortion Cases, I understand that. For me, a woman’s right to choose is a matter of body autonomy, at least until the 16th week. But, the Supreme Court refused to strike down an unconstitutional law. The law might be changed this year, but the law is unconstitutional as of today (1/1/22)

Donald Trump use of Executive Privilege: Good Guys +1

Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled not to take the case of Donald Trump and upheld the lower courts’ ruling to release documents. The result is not a major surprise, it follows the precedent of the Nixon Tapes. However, rejecting it out of hand is a major surprise. This means that he documents will be released now. Not after a lengthy review process that might stretch out until the mid-term elections are complete.

Use of Mandates via OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and Money: Tie

A stupid as hell tie, but a tie nonetheless. One part of the government is allowed to withhold money from Hospitals that do not enforce a mask mandate. This was upheld.

The other part disallowed a rule to enforce a mask or test mandate on larger companies. The opinion, crafted in a unique way, apparently to not rule on an aspect of the bill that would overturn thousands of laws, said that OSHA could not mandate this for safety. To get here, the court ruled that OSHA, in charge of worker safety, overstepped its bounds since Covid is not a workplace safety risk. Since it is a risk for the entire country, it is out of OSHA’s permit.


Still Open that I worry about

Overturning Roe v Wade

The Court is considering overturning Roe v Wade. This would be against precedent and at odds with what the nominees said during nomination. It is a big ass deal, and possible huge if the Court rules that body autonomy is not absolute. It depends on how they overturn it. Not only would it end Roe v Wade, the ruling could also overturn an old law that allows birth control in the states. The ruling would also allow the Courts and legislatures to pass laws to “protect” people, like anti-gay laws and anti-single parent / surrogate laws. It may not, but it would open the door.


Allow Nearly Unrestricted Handgun Carry

In a case involving the states that severely limit the carry of handguns as legal. An affirmative result for the plaintiffs (which the Court seemed inclined to rule for) would force states to adopt unlimited ease of use for handgun carry laws, either open or concealed carry. It would overturn laws in New York and California among others.


Requiring the State to Fund Religion

This court has been very supportive of religious rights, often to the detriment of laws banning discrimination. This particular case involves Maine, a sparsely populated state. In rural Maine there aren’t enough public schools in the north. So the state pays for education at private schools. The state will not pay for education at religious schools referring to the establishment clause of First Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This has traditionally meant the state cannot support religion, and if they do, must support all religions equally (which is why some city support nativity scenes also have a Menorah nearby).


Campaign Money to Candidates

At the present time, any moneys raised during a campaign must go to the actual campaign or (if not) transferred to another campaign. Ted Cruz is spearheading a challenge that would allow candidates to scoop excess money. He brought this test case now, not after he leaves office. This would enable a quid-pro-quo donation system – or legal bribery. If passed, companies might donate a million dollars to a campaign (like Senator Cruz’) and any unspent money would go to the candidate.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Future Trip : Trieste

 Two of my favorite things to do are: 

1. Surf House Porn. I love looking at houses. Sometimes I just look at the local places which are pictured, but definitely not staged! (LA and NYC "stage" houses for images. That is they make them pretty, clean the insides and try to vanilla it up - few pictures, clean walls and few to no family images).
     1a. I super love looking at foreign houses that I fantasize about.

2. Plan multiple future trips. Not all come to fruition, but I like the fantasy of planning.

Number 2 above leads to today's fantasy trip. Trieste, Italy.

Images from a BBC News Travel Article today.

Trieste is an overshadowed city in the far corner of Italy. It has usually spoken (mainly) Italian, but it has only been part of Italy since 1918. Before that it was part of the Austria/Hungary Empire. It (and Kotor in Montenegro) were the two major Naval Ports for the Navy. Remember Captain Von Trapp, he was a Naval Captain in a landlocked country? But when he was younger Austria/Hungary had two ports. Adn Trieste was the major one, and the center of Austrian ship construction.

It was considered part of the Austrian Riviera - really.

That and the lack of major battles around Trieste during WWI and WWII means that Trieste (like Sarajevo) has a beautiful supply of Australian Buildings from the early 1900s that were not bombed out. These buildings are often Paris-like, but with a more varied appearance and embellishments.

Now before Austria / Hungary, it had been a free city under the Habsburg Empire. That is, it "belonged" to the Empire, but operated as a free port, under the protection of the Empire. This was also a period of richness and growth.

Before both of the Habsburg Empire, Trieste was under the Control of the Republic of Venice for centuries. So, like a few some older cities from the same area in Slovenia and Croatia, Tieste still has the "port and city center" design of those.

It stayed part of Venice until Napoleon conquered it, lost it, and it was claimed by the Habsburgs.

So, it draws me in for its history and its architecture.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

How Coronaviruses attack and why this illustration might not be the best way to think about the virus

The book The Great Influenza was written in 2004 and updated with minor additions in 2005 and 2018. The book concerns itself with the Spanish Flu virus of 1918, but it has great relevance today. It gives a simplified but understandable detail on why coronaviruses (and HIV) are so hard to understand and treat.

This is the Covid virus. But this thing attacks a non-virus cell. That cell looks normal  until hundreds of thousands of newly created Covid cells are ready to burst out of an infected cell.

So let's start with a virus itself. Is a virus alive?

Kind of. Most scientist and biologists consider life to be the ability to eat, shit and reproduce. Even single cell bacteria do these basic processes. But viruses cannot reproduce as we understand it. Viruses attack other cells, taking them over then forcing them to replicate hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands copies of themselves. They neither "eat" or "shit" in this system.

This also goes to the way to the body attacks viruses versus bacterial infections. Bacteria designates their makeup through DNA - like nearly all "living" things do. So when a bacteria reproduces, its DNA designates itself as unique. That is why when you get a bacterial infection, antibodies work. Because they help the body strengthen its own immune response to a rouge DNA. But Antibiotics do not work on viruses, in part because there is no DNA strand to identify it. The body can understand bacteria as outside DNA strands being "other" and attack them. 

But viruses enter a internal cell, and so the body doesn't not immediately understand they are foreign. The host cell still identifies to the body - via its DNA - as "internal do not harm". Viruses define themselves with RNA strings. So when a virus attacks a cell from the inside out,the DNA string reads as "part of us" until it bursts open releasing thousands of virus markers that will invade other cells with a now unique marker RNA strand. But since hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of these are released at once, the body cannot usually react fast enough to fight them all. You get sick. The quicker you can fight these virus cells, the more likely you are to survive.

Coronavirus / Covid 19 (Covid 19 is one type of a Coronavirus), releases a TON of these at once, overwhelming the immune system. People who cannot react quickly enough, the elderly and the immunocompromised, can't beat off the infection and die. The common flu does the same thing, but usually releases ewer of these attack cells, and a healthy body can fight them off.

How do we get immunity?

Once the body has been infected and fought the virus, it has a memory now not just of the DNA of the body but the DNA/ RNA marker for the virus and can mount a quicker defense next time. Hence the hope of many people that "natural immunity" will work.

Moderna and Pfizer type of vaccines are not in the The Great Influenza book, because mRNA procedures are so new. But the mRNA vaccine essentially prewarns the body that a certain DNA/RNA marker should be attacked immediately, due to an RNA marker.

Then why do people who have had Covid or the Vaccine get sick with Omicron?

Well, viruses have a unique superpower. They can evolve their RNA coding quickly. Mush MUCH quicker than DNA evolves. Because the virus penetrates a cell and makes hundreds of thousands of copies, often times slightly different RNA sequences come up. If the change is large enough, the new DNA/RNA sequence no longer reads as the same virus, so the body, once again, reads it as part of us.

Since it is close to the original sequences, the body understands this more quickly now and will attack it more quickly. What we see is unvaccinated bodies may have learned how to recognize the attack cells, but they cannot quickly make sense of the new DNA / RNA combinations quick enough to prevent infection. Those vaccinated bodies can much more quickly hunt down not just the DNA / RNA combination, but the RNA can be identified quicker (hence bodies may become positive, but not always nearly as sick).

By the by, this evolution is called antigen drift. Your body may be able to tell if you've had covid through the RNA sequence, but if the RNA drifts enough, your body cannot recognize the new variant as the same disease.

When does it stop?

I don't know. I think that when enough bodies have seen latest RNA message and the virus cannot jump from person to person. Whether through recovery or Vaccines that mimic the virus or through mRNA vaccines. That is when the virus plays out. 

And the anti-vax people are correct that "natural immunity" will ultimately work. But only after a ton of deaths occur with each variant. That not only accepts a lot of death as a result, but at the same time is overwhelming our medical systems.

Now imagine if Omicron hit and NO one was vaccinated against it! If hospitals are overwhelmed when 30% of the population can't defined itself, image in 100% of the population could not.

How about the seasonal flu?

The seasonal flu works the same way, only it replicates in the body a lot slower (think hundreds of attack cells, not hundreds of thousands). Given this slower transmission, the RNA sequence doesn't have enough time to really mute or drift a lot. Our seasonal flu shots try to take into account older flu RNA markers, and maybe some new ones that have been spotted somewhere. But the slow replication means that healthy younger people can usually fight it off natureally.

Peter Beinart's Take on Ukraine (great reading!)

Peter Beinart is a political commentator who has been around for years and is super-ass smart. He was kind of blocked from the mainstream media a little over a decade ago for saying that Israel's policies towards the Palestinians was actually going to cause a huge backlash going forward. The fact that he was proved correct these few years later has not changed the Israeli lobby's stance.

he has written multiple non-fiction best selling books about the Israeli issues and America's involvment in the the region.

Mr. Beinart (a jewish person) was drummed out of the Jewish Anti Defamation League for his perspective, but became a voice for younger American Jews and started a new lobby FOR Israeli, but against Israel's expansion into Palestinian territory - J Street.

All that is background for an amazing editorial about Ukraine, great powers' spheres of influence and America's illusions about our own actions.

Read if you are interested, it is great.

America’s Delusions of Innocence Threaten the World

Peter Beinart

Jan 18

Last Thursday, Poland’s foreign minister warned that the crisis over Ukraine means the “risk of war” in Europe “is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years.” Most people in official Washington blame Vladimir Putin for that. I blame him too. But I also blame an American foreign policy class so wedded to fantasies of American innocence that it can’t imagine why Putin, or anyone else, would see America as a threat. And I suspect we’d be a lot further from war if Joe Biden’s top foreign policy aides were Mexican Americans.

RIP: Peter Bogdanovitch

Amazing director Peter Bogdanovich has passed away. He was great director and stunning user of black and white cinematography in Paper Moon and The Last Picture Show. He directed What's Up Doc and discovered both Madeline Kahn and Cybill Shepherd (as an ~actress). His list of achievements is long and he was rightly revered as a unique and talented director.


And yet, one of MY favorites is never mentioned. The stunningly so bad it is amazing film At Love Lost Love.


Yes, long before From Justin to Kelly, Peter created and then broke the mold in At Long Last Love. He cast Cybill - the great muse of his life - in a musical with Burt Reynolds.  If you heard is remixed, multiple take trainwreck of singing three lines in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, you can only imagine his work in ALLL. Well, you can't really. Because Bogdanovitch for some reason decided to go very very old school (like early talkies) of live singing. The music was feed into their ears via tiny speaker and they sang to it. Live! And then they used those takes.


The only reason it could have been done that way was that Bogdanovitch wanted to experiment OR he tried to get them to record in a soundbooth and it was no better.

Now Eileen Brennan and Madeline Kahn came out of this okay. Which in terms of this movie is stellar! For Burt and Cybill, it is a race of car crashes.

The color pallette is also interesting. He films the 1930s homage in color, but nearly all the "real" action takes place in black and white colors. The only rich colors are used in the staged pieces.

It is, of course, nearly impossible to get a hold of this movie. My guess is that Burt and Cybill (and maybe Petere) tried desperately to kill it. I purchased a bootleg copy of a CD that someone took apparently from an over air from a broadcast in Australia. On eban today, I just found a DVD copy from Greece that is being sent here, so we will see.

They released the film for collectors on both Laserdisc (in the olden days) or BlueRay (in the more recent olden days). But both were released to collectors only, and still failed to sell.

Some scenes and yes they sang live as they danced. Some of the huffing and puffing was edited out, but enough stays in to make me smile gleefully. It is such a train wreck, I made Lisa Hunt watch part of it. She was shocked and. appalled, but then morbidly fascinated. 

I await my DVD (projected to arrive between Feb 15 and March 15th!) on pins and needles.

Meanwhile, for your  enjoyment, I present the first introduction of Madeline Kahn as Kitty Kelly - chanteuse.  (A role type she would later make famous in Blazing Saddles).

Well hell, let's try this

I am pretty sure I am super gluten intolerant. I have always known that sleep and my mood are tied to pasta (as in I cannot eat too much). And I have found recently that pizza, which I freaking love, puts me in a spiral of depression that I cannot handle. Gluten also screws mightily with my sleep patterns, almost immediately (making me crash, then wake up at 2:00 and 3:00 and 4:00 AM).

And so, yesterday (during not a great day) I decided to investigate a bit more about gluten intolerance. I was hoping for a pill (like Beano) I might eat that would then counteract it. Or a way to slowly get my body more used to it.

Nope. In fact, the opposite. 

As you get older, this intolerance gets much worse. I mean for many people the intolerance starts as a child strong - and then reduces over time until you are okay. But later in life for some, it then starts getting stronger and stronger as you get older. Hence my love affair with pizza which, like many bad affairs, turned bitter and mean with age. It also has this effect, although they don't know why.

Just as an aside, which my mother may not agree with - but makes me feel better, I apparently spent my second year of life crying. Nay, not just crying. My parents would say screaming, but my parents were drama queens. I'm sure it wasn't that bad (ha ha).

I say all this to explain that I am trying to go gluten cold turkey. This might not be good, especially for Eddie.

I mean it is a trade-off right? Hopefully I will be less volatile. On the other hand, I will have to start having more beans as a starch with dinner. Anyone who knows me will know the deleterious effects of this.

I have started daily journal to document my sleep, moods and any gluten I eat. I am going to find the relationship. I am hoping that, at least at lunch, I can continue to eat sandwiches. And use as much sourdough as possible. Sourdough does not affect me nearly as much as other breads, so we shall see.

Anywho, there it is. I did pretty well on Atkins 15 years ago, it's stress less carbohydrates, often meant less gluten as well. So here goes nothing.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Trend I Have Never Understood

 I have never understood this trend. Throw blankets.


This header for a story implies that s/he has more than 1 throw blankets. I assume they are named "throw blankets" as a reference to "throw pillows". Which are those things I normally throw off the cou8ch when I try to sit down.

Now, at least with pillows I do understand they serve a purpose, particularly for people a bit shorter than I, who use them to make the couch more comfortable.

But throw blankets? That is a design too far that I do not understand. It doesn't make the couhc looked more comfortable, lived in or casual. How many "throw blankets" make the couch more comfortable. the answer, 1, IF there is a dog involved.


Okay, two uses if Sussie is there, because she is always cold. But then it is less a "throw blanket" than a "freezing blanket".

Must Be Sick (non-Covid edition)

My body affects my brain a lot. I think I must be a little sick as I am not in a great mood. I avery not very good mood. One might say a not very good horrible mood.

 Just a heads up.


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Ed Thinks It's Meth in the Water

In case you've missed it, Americans have gone bat-shit crazy. Bat-Shit Crazy, by the way comes from the theory that the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum resides in bat guano, and, since the fungus infects the brain of the host, makes them behave in a psychotic manner.

Only, in this case, it might be Methamphetamine instead of Histoplasma capsulatum. Through a long story of meth: Hell's Angels, popular ways to make it, Mexican Cartels, easy access to fentanyl, and Sudafed prohibitions, NEW meth is MUCH cheaper,  is now widely available nationally and is flooding the markets. It is also more dangerous, causes more psychotic and paranoid delusions. It is also a new replacement for the oxycontin plague we are trying to stop.

Ed has theorized - and it makes sense - that so much meth is entering the environment that some places, that meth episodes might be fueling the bat-shit crazy time we live in, even for people not using meth.

For example, shootings are rampant.  Conspiracies are rampant.  Explosive anger, results in attacks on store employees, restaurant workers and flight attendants are not even news anymore.

This is the number of MASS shootings. In the first 2 weeks of this year. MASS SHOOTINGS.

Yes, I know it is too small to read. That is how many mass shootings we have had in 2 weeks of 2022. Here is the link so if you want you can read in full.

Want an example? Yesterday - after a order was  maybe wrong - at a Wendy's in Phoenix there was an argument at the window. The customers drove away from the window, the passenger got out and shot a teenage worker in the head, and then drove away. This didn't make the news! DID NOT EVEN MAKE THE NEWS.

And it isn't just shooting. Airline passengers are leaping into anger and attacks with both feet and fists. This is from a CNN article at the end of October - BEFORE the holiday SNAFU. Look, flying has been an unpleasant experience since forever, but this fever swamp of bad actors is unmoored from reality.

Airlines have reported a record number of violent clashes between flight attendants and passengers. A survey by the Association of Flight Attendants found that 85% said they have dealt with unruly passengers as passenger volumes picked up in the first half of 2021. More than half 58% experienced at least five incidents. And 17% reported a physical fight.

Last week a passenger hit an American Airlines flight attendant twice in the face, breaking her nose. Earlier this year a Southwest flight lost two front teeth and sustained facial injuries from an attack by a passenger.

There have been about 5,000 formal reports of unruly passengers so far this year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, with 72% of them related to disputes over wearing masks. While the number of cases are down from earlier this year, before the FAA stepped up enforcement action, it is still far more frequent than pre-pandemic levels.


We are long past the "understandable" window. Hell, Americans can not even see how unusual this is for the world. 

!n 2021; 44, 860 Americans died from guns in the States (homicide, suicide and the odd hundreds of kids that accidently got a hold of their parents firearms). LINK 

And yet, even to get to that aggregated number from ALL wars, conflicts, and shootings in other countries, one must add up the top four wars in 2020 in order to get to our "acceptable" number of gun deaths as the price for the 2nd amendment. LINK

19,444  - Afghanistan: Taliban and ISIS
19,056  - Yeman: Yemenis in Civil War with 3 Yemeni factions and Saudi Arabia
 3,700   - Syria: Deaths in the Syrian Civil War 2020 (all sides)
 1,600   - Ethiopia, Tigray, Eriatria

So.. if add up the 4 LARGEST conflict deaths in the world in 2020. It STILL is not as many gun deaths as in the United States in 1 year. Tell me that isn't batshit crazy!

Some info on gun deaths are included below. This infor is for LESS THAN TWO WEEKS OF 2022!





About sums it up