Monday, February 28, 2022

I saw the play Barococo this weekend

I went to see Barococo this weekend. It is from an odd little theater group called Happenstance Theater. It was playing at 59 East 59th theaters, which I do love. I used to review there all the time, before Covid. I get the impression that they used Covid to change PR teams. So I paid to see this, which is fine. I think I am about done with reviewing theater anyway. Due to the uncertainty of it all.


This is the show description from the theatre website's marketing blurb. My feedback follows:

BAROCOCO dives into the late Baroque and flaunts 18th century finery, wigs, panniers, gestural styling, elaborate ornamentation and the excesses of Rococo in this unique physical comedy. A charming and charismatic six-person ensemble exposes an indulgent aristocratic lifestyle precariously perched on the edge of its extinction. One percent pomposity is punctured in this delightful comedy of manners.

The show takes place on a bare stage. There is only a table as a prop and a musician on the far left who plays as fantastic variety of Baroque instruments including a harpsichord, a Cello and some obsolete instrument than is (somehow) the love child of a harp and trombone.

Barococo opens with 5 royals entertaining themselves with small games within the same area on stage. Here the royals relax and amuse themselves by games of riddles, flattery, and very mild flirting. Their interaction swings between playful to despondent, and deferential to the Dauphine (the French Prince’s wife – soon to be Queen) and back again.

As the piece progresses, we see a rote repetition of the same movement, albeit with less enthusiasm. There is an undercurrent that all these games and interactions are forced.

Through their actions, we slowly understand that these Royals are held in this state - a lovely jail, until they are freed or sent to the guillotine. The second resolution looks to be more and more probable.

The uncurrent and moral of the story is that the 1%, whether now or back in the aristocracy of Europe, will ultimately have to pay the price for their capriciousness and indolence. It successfully displays this, but leaves the story that rings a bit false, as the 1% in the current world seems far from being reproached. 

It was fun, with moments of “mime” annoyance. See what I did there? There was a bit too much of mime in the show. Or, as they put it, “movement based humor”. I do not love mime. I was trapped in a box for hours, with no exit.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

63 Things About Me: #4 and #5

From original post: I will be turning 63 late next month. Sixty three! It is not an auspicious number. No big round number, no massive event. Just a birthday - hopefully the first in 3 years that isn't Covid screwed.

But, here's the thing, I am feeling pretty good right now (mentally). And I am looking forward to the next phase of my life. Having said that, it is time to look back fondly on what gifts I have been given. And, by gifts, I usually mean the pleasure of experiences with friends and loved ones.

60

Today are two places that I loved that made me super happy. The first provided me one of my first foreign travel thrills. The first I have imagined since I was just a young hopeful geography boy, Liechtenstein.

Yes, little tiny Liechtenstein. I went the first time on my first trip to Europe proper (I had visited England one time before).

It was kind of fantastic. I went the first time by myself (in between Munich and Frankfurt). It was really cool but they didn't take credit cards, and no one spoke English. I walked up to the Price's Castle - where he and his family still live. It made me happy.

I went later with Eddie and we enjoyed it again. The capital, Vaduz, had changed from a tiny little berg to a tiny wired cosmopolitan berg (that is wired - like the entire. country is provided free wi-fi - it is not weird just spelled incorrectly as you think!).

59

This is book-ended by the Faroe Islands. Lynn and I went on my 60th birthday, my last non-Covid birthday.


The Faroe Islands are the land of waterfalls, thrilling landscapes and pizzas with bananas on them. Okay that last one is odd, but it's their country.


It was my last trip for a long time. But in those moments restrictions are lifted, Ed and I traveled a lot.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

63 Things About #3

From original post: I will be turning 63 late next month. Sixty three! It is not an auspicious number. No big round number, no massive event. Just a birthday - hopefully the first in 3 years that isn't Covid screwed.

But, here's the thing, I am feeling pretty good right now (mentally). And I am looking forward to the next phase of my life. Having said that, it is time to look back fondly on what gifts I have been given. And, by gifts, I usually mean the pleasure of experiences with friends and loved ones.

Angkor Wat

Going to Angkor Wat was a spur of the moment decision. I was in Singapore for work and I had a weekend off before more meetings. Rather than stay in Singapore (which I had been to a lot) I decided to grab a cheap flight to Siam Rep to see the temples of Cambodia.

I had never been to Cambodia and this was long before Siam Rep became the tourist spot it is now. There were no giant hotels, Cambodia was still mainly undiscovered. In fact, Ed and I have been back and they found even more temples in the jungle.

The temples blew me away. I grew up thinking that the history of civilization before the renaissance was primarily an European idea. I knew China had been around, and was even more sophisticated in many aspects than Europe, but China was introspective and alone in Asia as a full on civilization.

So Angkor Wat was an unexpected experience. The tourist vendors were there but light. The tourists were there, but few and scattered. Waking through this nearly empty complex was somehow humbling. And the monks, dedicated to education and peace, moved me.

Since then, I've seen a lot, but that first impression was something I was honored to experience. 



And this is how "Stand Your Ground" became, Kill Them All


The just acquitted (i.e. found "not guilty") a 71 year old man who shot another man in a movie theater. The old retired police officer yelled at a man who was texting his daughter in previews. They had an argument, and then the old guy shot the father.

His, SUCCESSFUL, defense was that after an argument, which he started!, with a younger man, he was fearful for his life. At the end of the argument, the young man threw popcorn at Curtis Reeves. Curtis Reeves argued that he was now fearful for his life, reached in took out his handgun and shot Chad Oulson.

Great law.

The image below is of Chad Oulson (now dead) and his wife who was injured being quiet.

Argh.



Friday, February 25, 2022

Clearly I do not have the pulse of the public on my fingertips

Sometimes you just have to admit that you are out of step with the consensus. I must be, because this show, that I did NOT like, is going to Broadway. Oye.

Kimberly Akimbo Suspends Belief Too Much

Some stories do not translate easily into musicals but work nonetheless. Other stories do not.  World premiere musical, Kimberly Akimbo definitely falls into the second category. Although technically a musical about Kimberly, who ages 4 to 5 times more quickly than normal, the show throws everything against the wall to see what sticks.

Kimberly Akimbo gives us judgement free theft and grand larceny by minors. Aiding and abetting grand theft, with the only parental figure Kimberly has, is treated as a big joke. It gives us extortion, murder, and assault, all without judgement or consequences.  In fact, the only thing that does bring results is when someone is mean to Kimberly, then cosmic karma is visited upon the perpetrator. 

Front: Bonnie Mulligan, Victoria Clark, Justin Cooly, Stephen Boyer, Ali Mauzey (Ahron R. Foster)

Let’s start with the basics, Kimberly is a 16 year old child, but wrapped in an old lady's body because she has a disease that only affects 1 in 50 million people. Somehow, even with this extremely rare and complex disease, she lives with her alcoholic father and abusive mother, with nary a health care worker, or responsible adult, in sight. Sarcasm aside, Victoria Clark is fantastic in the role of Kimberly. She brings a freshness and teenage angst to Kimberly, as well as the role of young caretaker for the family that cannot function without her. 

Her tentative crush / love interest is Seth, played perfectly by Justin Cooley. A young actor in his Off-Broadway debut, he navigates the tricky role in a touching and believable way, out of step with the rest of the cast, bar Kimberly herself. However, the character is given an extremely annoying habit of making anagrams – and singing about them.

Bonnie Mulligan is hilarious in the role of Debra. Debra is young Kimberly’s aunt. Dedicated to a life of low-level crime, Debra is the closest Kimberly has to an adult role model. And that is saying something as Debra enlists all 6 high school students into a scheme that involves forgery, theft, and mail fraud. Which, of course, works and no one gets caught.

Kimberly’s parents, played by Steven Boyer and Alli Mauzey, are an alcoholic mess and inattentive and mentally abusive mother. The story occurs around Kimberly’s 16th birthday, which is the average age of death for someone with her condition. No disrespect, but it is a Hallmark movie you always wanted, if you wanted the killer babysitter to get away with it and marry the unsuspecting husband – all the while singing about it.

Most of the singing is excellent, although the songs were not terribly memorable. The ice skating on stage was a little disconcerting, but not out of character for the show.

Kimberly Akimbo starts a bit odd, and then gets odder as time goes on. The audience I saw it with started with loving the songs and showed it with extended applause. But they grew less and less enamored as the story became unmoored from reality. There are the bones and music of a great story in there somewhere. It is too bad it is all mixed up.

Victoria Clark and Justin Cooly on the lam (Ahron R. Foster)

I neither loved nor hated Kimberly Akimbo, but I admired its convictions to stay true to this odd fantasy. I didn’t admire it enough to recommend it to everyone. I think to really enjoy it, you would have to treat it as a very black comedy, which I do not think it is what the producers intended.


Kimberly Akimbo

So during this time, what are the Republicans busy doing?

First, blaming the US for the Invasion 




I will say this is the leader in the most asinine comment - so far!


While Florida is busy with things much more important the war. Their bills were YESTERDAY. You would think they have better things to worry about that their feelings as thousands of Ukrainians are killed.




And European Union is even more Selfish than America!

This is a Daily Beast article probably behind the paywall. I will reprint below because it shows how Italy, Germany and Hungary are stopping full scale sanctions. Just as an aside, I think it is time to kick Hungary out of NATO. Well, and the EU, but that isn't the US' business.

By the by, the United Kingdom, no longer part of the EU, has been tougher on Russia than the EU or America.



As Ukraine buckles under Russia’s brutal invasion, sparking the worst military bloodshed on European territory since the end of World War II, European leaders are haggling over sanctions, making sure being tough won’t hurt their own economies too much in the process.

Hours after the invasion began on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised “massive” sanctions that would cripple Russia’s financial standing. But it was soon clear that Russia’s tentacles are so deeply embedded in Europe’s strongest economies, that punishing Putin will come at a high price. Italy has asked that luxury goods so dear to Russian oligarchs to be excluded, Germany pushed for an exemption on the energy sector before eventually halting Nord Stream 2 certification but on Thursday refused to agree to block Russia from the SWIFT bank payment system. Other countries, including Hungary, dug in hard to block the toughest sanctions on the table.

Former President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted an angry missive to European leaders who have so far blocked the sanctions. “In this war everything is real: Putin’s madness and cruelty, Ukrainian victims, bombs falling on Kyiv,” he wrote Friday. “Only your sanctions are pretended. Those EU government’s, which blocked tough decisions (i.a. Germany, Hungary, Italy) have disgraced themselves.”

The Reason We Should Care About Ukraine


Why Care About Ukraine (spoiler, we're fucked if we don't)?

1. There are humanitarian reasons to care about Ukraine. Forty four million people are under attack because Russia has bug up its ass.

2. There is a bond of democracies which Russia is upending for Putin's pride. His neofascist brothers in arms Hungary and Poland - both in NATO - have been silent on this. His puppet Trump has hailed this as a smart and savvy take over by a genius.

Then the 3 final giant problems:

3. China is watching. If Russia attacks and absorbs parts of Ukraine without Western action, China has learned a serious lesson on how to take over Taiwan. China has spoken of forcibly taking Taiwan for decades. Maybe we should listen.

4. This has the ability to spill into a larger war and with NATO. The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are in the same spot as Ukraine. They are ex-Soviet states with large Russian minorities, that Putin has spoken of be4ling to greater Russia. These countries members of NATO and are protected by NATO, but why would that stop Putin. He has already complained they were part of the Soviet Union.

5. There has not been a pan-European War in over a century that the United States has not ultimately joined. Stand up to aggression now, or pay with blood to stop it later. Or give in later too.

Russia is counting of the weakness of the west and the terror that maybe Putin is scary enough to start a nuclear war. Right now, many Republicans in this country are choosing to support Russia's takeover. We actual war, that support has slowly decrease. But others are openingly cheer on Putin (including Trump - de facto head of the RNC).

Fox News' Tucker Carlson made the support of case for Russian intervention. He said that Ukraine is a puppet of the United States. Mr. Carlson not only has a rapt audience in the United States, but his comments are now playing on Russian TV all the time.

Then there is this headline - which more than just enjoyment for me - it seems like, just maybe, the Republicans are realizing that Party Leaders seen cheering on a murderous dictator is, you know, a bad look.



Thursday, February 24, 2022

Why Can't We Believe Evil People?

Most of us who can or do read this blog are very lucky. We have nice things, we live in great countries. We get to watch, read and do what we want. As individuals we tend to hope and believe in the best of people.

And so we make ourselves deaf to warnings that we do not want to hear. We tend to miss the warning signs of acts that we can't perceive of. We forget that there is evil in the world, and replace it with lesser faults like greed or avarice or misunderstandings. 

We hope for the best and so... We ignore the threats from Russia about Ukraine. From China about Taiwan. From Republicans about voting. And from Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Donald Trump about Fascism.

Decades of nearly peaceful coexistence have lulled us into a state of complacency which we are loath to exit. And turning from problems and fear has been fine until the past few years.

But now. We ignore the truths at our peril.   

Below: A woman tries to flee from Kyiv. Unsuccessfully.



The Republicans Close Ranks with Democrats over the War

Ha ha. Just kidding

The Republicans and their political propaganda outlets, Fox News Newsmax, etc., are fully on board with Vladimir Putin. And yes, it is a fucking disgrace that it has come to this. Below is where the Republican leaders and media are saying.


What are their chief cheerleaders saying:

Trump: The entire war is based on a "rigged election". If Trump was President, this would not have happened. Oh yes, to quote Trump, Putin is a very savvy and smart man he admires. Also, Putin is a genius for invading this way.

Fox News: Tucker Carlson: Ukraine is a "client state of the USA" is "not a democracy" and that is why Putin is invading.

Fox News: Laura Ingraham: Ukraine's President asking for peace was "pathetic". "The Democrats don't really care about Ukraine."

Erik Erikson: The war was triggered by environmentalists, not Russia.

Steve Bannon: America should be supporting Russia, because Putin and Russia are not "Woke". And Russia and Putin hate LGBT so they are standing up for morality (you know, because war, do not kill and do not bear false witness are less important that "let's hate fags").

Newsmax: The invasion is a hoax. (Yes, really.)

Charlie Kirk: It is Greta Thunberg's fault.

What "Twist" Ending?

 I cannot decide to be annoyed or saddened at this headline.

It was not a "twist" ending. Just because you haven't read the CLASSIC book, seen the 1980s Pierce Brosnan version, the Mr. Magoo Version or the Best Picture Winner 1956's Around the World in 80 Days, does not mean it is a "twist" ending.

It means you are oddly placed and deeply in over your head as a cultural writer.

63 Things About Me - 1 and 2

 I will be turning 63 late next month. Sixty three! It is not an auspicious number. No big round number, no massive event. Just a birthday - hopefully the first in 3 years that isn't Covid screwed.

But, here's the thing, I am feeling pretty good right now (mentally). And I am looking forward to the next phase of my life. Having said that, it is time to look back fondly on what gifts I have been given. And, by gifts, I usually mean the pleasure of experiences with friends and loved ones.

So these are the first two experiences I have enjoyed like hell, usually with my Eddie.

1. Going to the Olympics

The pictures above are from the olympics actually attended and enjoyed. And a particular thank you to NBC for hiring my husband to be CFO to Sports and Olympics. It accounts for 2 of these.

(left to right, and top to bottom)

  1. Los Angeles 1984. I attended this one with some friends, Greg and often by myself. I saw Athletics (track and field) at the Coliseum and saw Carl Lewis with a gold medal, and Tommy Hintnaus just be gorgeous. I knew people on the men's gymnastics team (which won gold). I saw US gold medal Men's Volleyball and spoke with friends on the olympic court!! I even sent my mom to Annapolis to see a preliminary Soccer game. There was more, but you get the idea.
  2. Beijing 2008. Ed and I went to this. A huge thank you to Citibank that let me work remotely for 6 weeks. And to partners who were too hungover to go to many of the events and I got to use their tickets. Highlights, Opening Ceremonies that were amazing, watching Iceland win their first olympic medal and watching the American male gymnasts get a bronze with Sasha Artemev - my favorite athlete and an alternate that suck the Pommel Horse to seal it.
  3. Vancouver 2010. My only Winter Olympics. This was great fun. I saw Evan Lysacek with the gold medal in Figure Skating and was blown away. The village was a blast here.
  4. Rio de Janeiro 2016. This was a quick trip, but we saw some amazing things. We saw Tom Daley dive, men's beach volleyball (see pick above) and met some very cool athletes at parties.

2. Visiting Old Olympic Sites

My love of Olympics - and Ed's enjoyments AND tolerance - has led me to discover old Olympic Sites when we are bussing around a new place. I have visited these sites of old olympics and/or museums.


  1. Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics ski jumps.
  2. Berlin 1936 Stadium - serious fascist piece of architecture.
  3. Montreal 1976 Stadium and observation tower.
  4. Sarajevo (Winter 1984) Museum in lower levels of the Olympic Stadium
  5. The Official Olympics Museum in Lausanne Switzerland
  6. Athens Original Stadium used in 1896 and 2004

Happy News Before War

No sure if there is anything more to say that hasn't been said a million times about a war in Ukraine. So I am going to ignore it here.

Instead let's focus on something nice. This little ball of fluff is Junie. Her owner is not able to move about well, so (through PAWS) I walk Junie Tuesday and Thursday mornings. She is tiny, old and a little scared, but she is enjoying outside more and more everyday.


She lives about 3/4s of a mile away, so I get in a mile and a half twice a week (in addition to - you know - the good karma).

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Wait, us gays are back in their cross hairs? (Plus the Supreme Courts look sto fuck homos next year.)

In case you missed it, homos are back in the cross hairs of the Republicans. It is two years out from the primary for President and the two mini-Trumps, Florida Governor DeSantis and Texas Governor Abbott, are thinking about running. So they are stoking the anti-gay and anti-trans culture wars into full flame. In both states the anti-education bills (prohibiting CRT) als prohibit teaching of LGBT history. (These are also 2 of the states that are banning books...)

In Florida they passed a bill that specifically outlaws teaching of LBGT topics unless it is "age appropriate". The term is never defined, so any parent can sue any teacher - because, you know, the Supreme Court has accepted paying bounties is totally fine. If they win, it is $5,000 that the teacher must pay. If they lose, they lose.

We should be happy that, at the last moment, a provision was stripped out requiring any school nurse, teacher or counselor to report a child's LGBT tendencies or questions to the parent if the child is suspected of being gay. Many kids get killed by relatives when their status is disclosed and thousands of minors are kicked out of their homes every year. So that bill was just cruel.

In Texas, the Governor and Attorney General (both running for reelection) have now defined ANY gender affirming care as Child Abuse. (LINK) So, if your 16 year old boy wants to transition to a woman AND you as his parent support him emotionally, that is child abuse. Even if you suggest he wait until he is an adult.

If your six year old little girl wants to wear pants to school on a single day and she says - as children often do - "I wanna be a boy today!" and you let her wear pants: Child Abuse.

Bonus Hate

The Supreme Court today put a case on the docket for next year that promises to let businesses discriminate against gays. The case concerns a woman in Colorado who is a Wedding website designer. She sued (and lost) in Colorado because she wants to post a notice on the site that she doesn't do wedding sites for Gays and Lesbians because of her religious beliefs. She lost because Colorado has an anti discrimination law and business are not allowed to discriminate against homosexuals anymore than against minorities. 

UNDERSTAND. This woman does NOT have a website creation business yet. Note that this woman does NOT have any customers now or previously. It is a case designed only for litigation. Which means that she should not be allowed to pursue this because she lacks standing. Just as they let the Texas Abortion law stand because no one had been hurt yet and therefore no one had standing. But a possible business having to deal with fags is much more of a civil rights issue than women's autonomy over their own bodies.

Back to the Supremes. They took the case as a case of Freedom of Speech. Is she allowed to state that she will not work for gays for religious reasons? The Supreme Court taking this case and questioning if religious beliefs trump civil rights laws for businesses. If the Supreme Court allows this a Freedom of Speech issue, then signs saying business will not cater to Jews, Hindus, single parents, mixed race couples, etc will also be legal.

And, before you say this can't happen (which I might say). Remember that discrimination by religious public services are already legal in Tennessee. The court originally allowed the only adoption agency in the state, to rule out gays because they are a Christian Adoption Agency. One that is the only tax supported agency in the state. It is a Christian business on the government payroll just happens to get federal and state funds. After that decision that they could discriminate against gays due to their religios beliefs, the publicly funded agency (again the only adoption agency in Tennessee!) has denied jewish straight married couples help, because Christians believe Jews are evil sinners.

Go Team!

Why Sanctions?

The United States and much of the European Community have placed sanctions on Russia or  individual Russians because of the invasion of Ukraine over the past few days. Why?

The obvious answer is that we are trying to prevent or punish Russia for its attacks in the Ukraine. But does it work?

Mostly ... no. The answer is that sanctions very rarely work. Once a government has committed a country to a certain extralegal path, the role of sanctions is usually baked in. There are very few sanctions that have worked. 

We see that sanctions haven't changed the trajectory of Iran, North Korea, Russia (where we already had some sanctions), Sudan or nearly any other country. So why do it?

Well...

Most governments introduce sanctions to stop or punish behavior. Countries and citizens feel like is doing something. Something big and splashy but probably not effective. 

On the other hand, what else is there to do? The western world isn't going to go to war to save Ukraine, albeit NATO did provide a lot of weapons to Ukraine. The western world won't go to war over North Korean nuclear weapons or Iranian steps to acquire a nuclear weapon. The exception to the last statement is Israel, who might actually go to war to stop Iran from getting the bomb.

The one VERY impactful sanction on Russia was implemented by Germany in stopping the Nordic gas pipeline. This will hurt most of Western Europe. But it will also deprive Russia of a LOT of income. Perhaps more than just the Nordic pipeline revenue, since most of the other gas deliveries are through Ukraine.

Interesting facts that Americans did not know - about America


This post is not about Americans being stupid. 

But it is about Americans being surprised about our practices and place in the world in many areas. Here are the 9 things that an International Tic-tocker found Americans are most surprised about , according to his comment section.

Now some of them are provided by some employers - like paid time off - but they point that surprises Americans is that thing slike these are required in other countries, not at an employers discretion. 

I think many of these seem surprising to us, because we assume that we are the freedom forefront. That was true for many years, most of the world has passed us by. And, "Make America Great Again" proposals would not improve any of these items.

  1. There are 81 other nations (and all developed countries) that have at least 30 days paid off time guaranteed a year. US has none.
  2. Every other developed nation has paid maternity leave. We do not.
  3. US is the only country that has a pledge of allegiance. That isn't a big deal, but it surprises us that other countries don't have one.
  4. US has dropped to 17th place in the human freedom index. The Cato Institute (an American institution) creates this list based on Personal, Economic and Civil freedoms. 
  5. US in in 27th place in the global social mobility index. That means there are 26 countries that make it easier to get out of poverty.
  6. US is one of only 2 countries where prescription drug advertising is legal.
  7. Opioid crisis was pretty much just a US crisis, with 80% of opioids consumed in the US.
  8. Many developed countries calculate taxes on your behave with few or no exemptions. Note: this sounds like it would be bad, but almost all major exemptions benefit the richest of us. If we removed their exemptions the middle and lower income earners would pay less. A lot less.
  9. Most countries do away with a child tax credit by depositing money into a parents' account for each child every month for 18 years.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

And now the pleasant news: Cancun

 We went to Cancun and had a great time.

(most of_ The Gang we were with.

Eddie, Walker and Alex in the pool

From above (our room) you could see the pool and the proximity to the ocean.  Noyce!

Some handsome man I saw on our balcony


I'm Back: Annoying News First

Well, I am back and it was great. I'll post great pics next, but first just a wake up call to me.

On Sunday, I saw 3 awful posts about gun attacks. Below is one of them.

So I investigate yesterday's killings. Monday was President's Day. Here is the information that disturbed me. We are soooo used to gun homicide in the US that we don't even register it as newsworthy anymore. Here is kind of the proof.. Number of shooting deaths (not by police) on Monday:

Total shooting deaths on Monday = 21 (* are "Stand Your Ground States) link

Texas* = 7 dead
Louisiana* = 4
New York = 2
1 each = CA, DC, MA, MI, MN, NV*, TN*, VA

Amazing. Aslo amazing, none of these homicides were big news. Also note, this doesn't include the nearly 100 others who were injured, but not killed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Wait, who else said this?

 Texas has led the nation on banned Critical Race Theory in public schools. Actually Fox News has led the nation, but they were to convince hundreds of states and school districts to ban "critical race theory" CRT - from here after.

But no one, particularly not politicians, can agree what CRT is. Without getting too technical, CRT is basically the teaching of history that is both positive and negative. For example, it would teach that George Washington was a great man, and in some ways not a great man. He was the leader of our Revolutionary forces, he was the only President of the Article of Confederation and the first under the constitution. He freed all his slaves after his dead. On the other hand, he did not free his slaves while he was alive and he supported the "Virginia Compromise" that perpetuated slavery via the Constitutional system of counting slaves as 2/3 of a person for districting.

CRT was designed and is taught in college. No high school si or was teaching critical race theory. It is a Fox boogeyman design to tar Democrats.

And now the state and local laws banning CRT are mainly designed to keep ANY negative discussions out of school. In some states that means no discussion of slavery, no discussion of how the states were founded. In Texas, no discussion of their state Constitution that actually defined slavery as a reason for statehood (Mexico did not allow slaves). In Florida no discussion of gays or lesbians at all. In Tennessee no discussion of the holocaust, Naszism or Facism.

And here a quote from a Texas official that mimics the policies of Hitler, Stalin and Mao...


Stand Your Ground and Kill an 8 Year Old

 Once again the Stand Your Ground law in Texas strikes. The law changed the rules in Texas (and Florida). The rule used to be that in the event of an attack at home you were allowed to defend it, even with deadly force.

But that wasn't quite enough for the good gun owners in the Lone Star and the Sunshine states. So both states passed a "stand your ground " law. The law now says "if you are THREATENED in any location, (like bars, parking spots or gas stations) you do not have to back down, but can defend yourself ".

So there was an attack on a couple at the ATM in Houston. After the robber fled the area with the man's money, the victim took out a gun and tried to follow the robber. The victim thought he saw the robber jump into a pickup truck and take off. So the "stand your ground" man shot at the feeling truck. Only it was the wrong truck and killed an 8 year old girl. He was in no way standing his ground.

So, by far the biggest result of "stand your ground" is the accidently shooting of bystanders. The second biggest result is pissed off old white guys shooting at Black people. 

One old guy in Texas followed and  shot 4 Black teenagers because, as he explained, he and his wife were at a gas station. The Black teenagers were playing their rap music too loud. When the elderly gentleman asked them to stop (sm- politely I am sure) they told him to fuck off and drove away. He followed the car and shot at it killing two of them. Then he drove home without telling anyone. That is not standing your ground, that is hunting people.

One older white gentleman shot at a Black man coming out of the store back to his wife who was sitting in a car . The old guy's explanation, they parked in the handicap spot and it pissed him off. Not that it matters - but he was NOT handicapped, just pissed off. Sure the guy who parked there deserved a ticket. But he did not deserve to be shot. Again, being pissed off at a Black person and shooting them should not be called standing your ground.

One (not old not young) white off duty cop brandished his gun to threaten a gaggle of Black tennagers at a movie theater for being too loud - he was there to watch a movie. Now, while I understand his anger, flashing his badge and aiming a gun at them is, again, not standing your ground. That was his defense.

The list, painfully, goes on, but you get the idea.

The law should be that you can take a Xanax, but leave the shooting to the cops.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

This is what I would be like as a father

AND, I would think I am funny.



Meaning of Life: Sweet

If you've ever, or never, seen The Good Place, this clip is still sweet without being saccharine. It's hard to do, but ignore the captions (they're in some odd language- Turkish?) and listen to the words. They are beautiful and hopeful. Something I rarely am.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Survey Says: Surprising News on how to Stop Gun Violence

 One of the problems about loudly support science and the scientific method of problem solving is that, sometimes, it comes up with an answer that doesn't seem correct. Or that you don't like.


This result covers both of those outcomes, it seems neither logical nor empirically correct.  Like most big city , blue state residents I assume the way to reduce gun violence is to get rid of guns. But let's look a little deeper and admit that this might not be true. Philadelphia did an in depth look at this. Let me quote from the piece directly for a small moment.

You can read the entire piece here, but these is the main point that threw me for a loop. The study covers from 1999 - 2019.

Year over year the amount of both fatal and nonfatal gun crimes hasn't changed all that much. And the rate of "solving" those crimes is very very low (from about 30% in New York, to mid 20%s in Philly and less than 11% in Chicago.)

On the other hand, the rate that the Philadelphia police are arresting people to get "guns off the street" has increased 300% over the last few years. The data suggests (okay, if I did not disagree the outcome I would say "the data shows") that there is no link between the number of guns taken out of circulation and the amount of gun crimes.

If this sounds counter-intuitive, I get it. But, it turns out that because there is an almost endless supply of guns now in the United States, pulling some off the street and expecting crime to go down is like plugging Niagara Falls with a few boulders and expecting a dry river.

In countries where there are many many fewer guns (so everywhere but Yemen and Afghanistan) those countries DO benefit from taking guns off the street. But the US just has too many.

The story also comments on the practice of pulling guns off the street even when no crimes is committed is overwhelmingly targeted at Black men. Up to 80% of all guns seized without a crime were seized from minorities. 

And since police often don't show up to trials where the guns were seized, it destroys faith in the system.

The report concludes that a much better solution is for the police to focus on actual gun violence and crimes rather than generalized random stops to get guns off the street. Clearing up the backlog of open cases would be a better use of police, a better result for the government and better results for the citizens of the city.

Again, I don't like the anwer, but it does make sense from the data presented and the current facts on the ground.

Image Time: Photographer Frédéric Chaubin captured over 200 European castles for his new book,

 There is a CNN story about photographer Frédéric Chaubin and his book on Castles (Taschen - so expensive and full of gorgeous images).

I have picked out a few here, but there are more and the full story here, on the CNN website.

Germany

Spain

Italian Castle destroyed by 15th Century Earthquake

Italy

Italy

Spain

Portugal (old Templar Castle)

Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World Cartoon

 I actual subscribe to Tom Tomorrow and his web site. I do this because I have read him and loved him for a long time. When he was in  those weekly magazines (and many newspapers) I loved his work. The dynamics of the press have changed and so his work was in jeopardy. I don't subscribe to a lot of things, but I think he is worth supporting.

This cartoon shows that. Subscription information below - with zero expectations you need to do it. But I thought a plug hee was worth it.

As always, click on the image to increase the size.

Finally, a reminder: we're on the honor system here, but please don’t forward this newsletter! I'm not a major media conglomerate, I'm just one guy trying to keep the lights on here, and this thing is a big part of that.  And if you’re receiving a forwarded copy and you enjoy reading it each week, please consider signing up for your own subscription. It's pretty cheap and you'll be helping to keep TMW alive!

I’m heading out of town for the weekend, so hopefully nothing will break in the news that renders any of this week’s offering obsolete. I’ll have a laptop with me, so I’ll be able to correct typos if necessary, but I'm hoping I made it through a week without any mistakes for a change. Thanks to everyone who pointed out last week that the word I was going for was “centripetal,” rather than “centrifugal” — it’s a small thing but I like to get the details right. It seems important to make the effort, in a world so full of misinformation.


Economist Lists USA as a "Flawed Democracy"

Every year or so the Economist releases it's "democracy index report". This year - as last year - the United States is listed as a "Flawed Democracy".

Select the image to get a more detailed view.

The US did better than expected because even with the Jan 6th insurrection, the Biden Presidency happened on time. Other reasons for the US low score are:

  • Gerrymandered districts that are uncompetitive. This allows 50 / 50 states to send delegations to the House of Representatives that are grossly different from the actual state vote. It also undermines the idea of 1 person / 1 vote are equal to all others.
  • Winner of popular vote doesn't always translate to winner of the election.
  • Voting Restrictions are on the rise (example: see the primary underway in Texas).
  • Single Representative districts. Results better represent votes when the top two or three candidates (and often from different political parties) are selected. Single representatives per district work to allow only 2 or 3 parties to successfully compete. Example: 2 in the US, 3 in England, Scotland and Wales. 
I found this interesting because it was flagged from a website in Spain that lamented that Spain's democracy has fallen to the level of "flawed" democracies like Estonia, the United States and Greece. It was a bit of painful truth about our country and how it is seen by much of the world.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Wow! Just Wow!

“In short, this is a memoir spun from the thin gruel of musty propaganda and cherished grudges. Turning these pages is like watching an old man dust his Hummel figurines and whine about the neighbors.”

Our ex-esteemed leader, Donald J Trump, has released his book.Much like President Obama and First Lady Michelle's book it is a deep dive into what ails this country. Ha ha, just kidding.


It is a picture book that should share a title with a book from series 1 of Friends, "My Big Book of Grievances". It was released by "the nation's premier conservative publisher, "Winning Team Productions", started by Don Jr and an ex-staffer, Sergio Gor. This is the nation's premier conservative publisher's first (and only) book.

I will quote a few choices from the Washington Post and Daily Kos:

There’s no containing Trump’s bile.

A photo of Trump meeting with in the Oval Office with John and Cindy McCain is captioned: “John McCain visited me in the White House, asking for a job for his wife. I am smiling, but I didn’t like him even a little bit.”

A photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, shown negotiating in a conference room is captioned: f---ing CRAZY — hence the name Crazy Nancy!” That caption was written with a Sharpie and placed over an image of the presidential seal.

“Trump closes the book with three double-spreads in a row of large crowds of fans. The last photo is a close-up of Trump alone, looking solemnly to the side. Then there’s a Sharpie note: `America, our journey continues. Together we will take our country back. We will WIN!’”

There's tough then there is just cruel

 Despite the headline, I find the macarena worse.



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...