Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is when Americans thank and honor those veterans who gave their time, health, and often lives to fight for the freedom of our country and others around the world. They have kept us free and they have our grateful gratitude.


Maybe it is also time to honor those 311,000 United States children that have suffered through a school shooting since Columbine in Aril of 1999. Their lives have been disrupted, many suffer from PTSD for school shootings and constant "live fire drills', and the hundreds that have lost their lives to "protect" the second amendment. They too sacrificed themselves at the alter of the United States Constitution, as defined by the NRA.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Trying to Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine)

The is interesting, scientists in Australia are trying to bring back the Tasmanian Tiger in a very unusual way, but it is the same method they are using for the Wooly Mammoth. Note that the Tasmanian Tiger is not a tiger, but a marsupial. Albeit a carnivorous marsupial.*

Last Tasmanian Tiger - died in a zoo in 1936

It is not cloning (which I figured it was). I mean cloning works if the animal is alive and around but never proven on an extinct species.

Instead, these scientists have decoded the Tasmanian Tiger DNA. They are then taking the DNA of the closest species - Dunnart for the Tiger, Elephant for the mammoth, and  then changing the host DNA. Scientist cut and past in the different DNA from the extinct species. A fertilized egg will be implanted into the host species. This should result in a new Tasmanian Tiger. It is as yet unproven.

This DNA splice seems particularly odd in the Tiger case because the Dunnart, its closest relative, is a mouse sized marsupial. But the good thing with marsupials is that their offspring are born super tiny and they finish growing in mom's pouch. Zoos and sanctuaries in Australia already have experience in raising marsupials in an artificial pouch. So I guess we will see if this works. 

Unlike the Wooly Mammoth, the Tasmanian Tiger already has a niche in the ecology of Tasmania. And introduction would make sense to control populations of other animals.

*Interesting side note: The extinction of the Tasmanian Tiger means that the largest marsupial predator is the Tasmanian Devil. Which is really about 2 1/2 feet long and does not twirl into a whorl wind.

At Long Last - Republicans Offer Some Solutions for Mass Shootings

Thank goodness our Republican leadership has proposed some real solutions to mass shootings:

Have fewer doors on schools - Senator Ted Cruz

Cancun Ted believes that fewer doorways would delay shooters - allowing students to../ well they can't escape with only 1 door. And there are fire codes for a reason.

No more Transgender people - House Rep Paul Gosar - Arizona

Paul was the first politician to call out the shooter. Unfortunately he was dead wrong. He picked up a picture on the "truth" on the internet, one of two doctored pictures putting the shooters hair on two transgender women: one in New Jersey and one in Michigan living and working at the time of the shooting. Not surprisingly, this has been debunked, but. those two women are still getting death threats.

No More Liberal Teachers - Maine House of Reps - Heather Anne Sprague

Heather believes says that liberal teachers molded this child into a serial killer. She thinks the shooter's teachers should be arrested for multiple murders.

Not Enough God - House Rep Marjorie Taylor Green - Georgia (and lots others)

"We don't need more gun control. We need to return to God" (Majorie). 

Not Enough Guns / Arm Teachers - Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

We need to station people at guns at every school in the country. (Scott's note - turns out there WERE police at the High Shooting. They did nothing to make a point and waited for the Border Patrol assuming this shooter was an undocumented immigrant. FYI - he wasn't. Full American citizen that killed 21 people, But thanks Texas Police.

It's Due to Poor Peoples Lack of Fathers - Senator Mike Lee - Utah

Words fail.

Is ADHD Medication's Fault - Sen Tommy Tuberville - Auburn (joking - Alabama)

“Kids have changed over the years, the drugs they’re taking for attention deficit just to focus on what they’re doing. It’s mind-boggling to me,” he told HuffPost this week.

And finally this lovely response by Rep Lauren Boebert - Colorado

Colorado rep. Lauren Boebert has dismissed calls for gun law reform in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, because the county "didn't ban planes" after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Dear Ms Boebert, the country doesn't want to ban SCHOOLS (which is the actual equivalency here). But we did BAN things people bring on a plane - liquids, sharp objects and box-cutters. The things actually used to try and kill people. 

These children died and you all don't seem to give a shit or be serious.

As for the manufacturer of the actual gun, Daniel Defense. This was their ad 8 days before the shooting:

I guess it is truth in advertising. The murderer did not depart from guns. I don't think it is something to be proud of, but okay.

The saddest part of Daniel Defense gun maker. This will actually drive up sales. Gun sales increase every time there is a mass shooting. So they will profit off these deaths. 

My Little Junie

 Okay, not mine, but this is the pup I walk twice a week for an immune compromised woman. I posted her picture in the winter sweater, but now she is out, walks and smells and is getting used to the outside again.

And she is pretty tiny. She is standing next to a railroad tie.



I Think They Were Unclear on the Concept

 I saw this story this morning. And I was surprised...

I was not surprised that the guard was "on" something, per say, but I was kind of amazed at their drug of choice. Cocaine is NOT going to help you stand still and silent while on duty.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Take Me Out was GREAT




 Okay, I wasn't really up for seeing Take Me Out. I'm not all that into baseball, and what is the point of another gay coming out story. Particular when, 20 years on, STILL no one in baseball has come out. But a friend, Kelli, wanted to go, and she can't make it to New York. I trust her and thought if she liked it it 

And it's not really about coming out. Jessie Williams (of Grey's Anatomy) plays a baseball legend. He is the best player on a winning team. Handsome, intelligent, biracial with a wholesome middle class upbringing. He is the epitome of the American Dream. And coming out, well it doesn't thrill anyone, but it doesn't challenge anyone really.

The story is more, much more, about Patrick Adams (of "Suits" fame) who is Jessie's best friend and the ream peacekeeper. AND a new hotshot pitcher raised in a deeply racist and homophobic set of orphanages and foster homes. Patrick has to (or has chosen to) become a big brother to the entire team, and is a long time friend of Jessies.

Gliding against this story, is the story of Jesse Tyler Ferguson (from Modern Family). He is a gay account who is assigned to Jessie's account when his original account retires. Over the course of the play, Jessie becomes the only gay person Jessie can talk to. Maybe the only person, and others change on him.

Tyler Ferguson tries to learn baseball to understand his new client better. And he does. Then he falls in love with baseball. The sense of belonging to a group. The smell of success and the pain of loss. He is a convert.

So let me say this. Jessie Williams is fantastic. His acting is phenomenal. It isn't over the top, it is restrained and spot on. And, if you heard about the pictures that were snuck out (they lock your phones up when you go, so someone lied) are true. That appendage deserves it's own playbill listing. But I digress.


Jesse Tyler Ferguson is also great. I've seen quite a few times, and this is one of his best. Or maybe the role. He moves from outcast to lover of baseball, and it is cute.

Patrick Adams is fine. Okay, he is very very good. But a) never mind #1 - it'ws not important to anyone but me and b) ( and much much worse) he is a Trojan and still contributes a a mentor at USC. And he was very good in a cast that was stellar.

Oy

Today's Epiphany

 Today I would like to discuss something that happened on my way back from walking the little dog (Junie). I understand more why the state of affairs is depressing me.

Growing up in the states, we have an odd perspective on the world. To sum it up, we're better. No judgment, America is just better than everywhere else. Now of course, your first trip to Europe or Singapore or Japan or Buenos Aires makes you question if we are actually better off than those people in those places. There are places where people live longer, have better health care, don't have random shootings, are more polite to one another and have better Indian food.

But, as American will tell you as you relate the "better' things overseas, those better things are only possible by the shining light America provides as a beacon AND we protect other countries militarily, so they can focus on their internal growth. Why we don't get internal growth is not mentioned in this, but we all agree to ignore it.

And, yes, I am sure that people in China and Europe believe they have the best intentions too, but I only know my country.

I say all of this as background. In the old world order, the USA held the "good" side up while the USSR had dominated (conquered) the other countries in their orbit. The fall of the Berlin Wall just cemented this ideas in our head.

Now we are facing a tri-polar world.

Despite my protestations of being a global citizen, I still think of the world as tri-polar. Driven by the US, Russia and China. And yes, I do know that leaves out Europe, India and others - but that is how Americans think.

My current desire to flee (to Europe?) is driven by my fear that our country is going down the horrid path that Russia and China have gone down. A path where power is the goal not the means. And how can you feel okay when everything you learned up as good and honest is turned to crap? Okay, I haven't bought the pure "good and honest" for a long time. But I have held up the idea that we are leaps and bounds ahead of Communists then, and now well ahead of Russia and China on human rights and good government.

And now. Not only are we not necessarily better than them, but many Americans are trying to undermine our very "goodness" to introduce hate and division with anger and guns.

So my general "sadness at the state of our country" has a point under it all.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

And now, for some stats

Yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, an 18-year-old with an assault rifle he purchased legally fought his way through armed police to enter an elementary school and massacre 19 young children and two teachers. It had only been 10 days since another 18-year-old with an assault rifle killed 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo. 

It was the 213th mass shooting in the United States this year.

It was the 27th school shooting in the United States this year.

It was the 554th school shooting since the Columbine massacre in 1999.

Guns are now the leading cause of childhood deaths in America, topping car accidents.


Wisley Gardens

New Hilltop building
Yes, I know i almost always post about Wisley when we go to England. But it is such a gorgeous garden. It is actually "the Royal Horticultural Garden at Wisley". During this visit we actually visited two new sections. The Water Garden, which is cute, but not too big. But the are is now the focus of the labs and a food. It is a new nice building, and I like it.



Crazy pretty azaleas

A Horse studies Jane, Lynn and Ed



Then there is the "Italianate Gardens" which is a ramble of mounds and streams that calls to mind the wild gardens of Italy. We lucked out because the Azaleas were in bloom. Gorgeous.

And yes, they have updated the Alpine Houses (my favorite) and the water feature area.

Newly updated Alpine Rockery




Sometimes even the best politicians has had enough. Thank you Rep. Ruben Gallego

 


Freedom, Fireworks and the Second Amendment !

The question most of the world, and many Americans, asks is why do we support this? How can we support killing our children?

Info today makes us all question the country? Sure some question why liberals let this happen - apparently we should be providing teachers with guns and buying (I kid you not) bulletproof blankets for the walls.

So yesterday, 19 young children and 2 teachers were killed by a shooter in Texas. Mourning was (almost) everywhere. And, no this is not the Supermarket killing last week that killed 10 and wounded 8 more.


I did say mourning people were "almost" everywhere. And those not mourning all that much are our elected and ex-elected leaders.

In Texas this week-end the NRA (National Rifle Association) is holding it's annual shindig in Houston, not far from the shooting. And who will speak at this gluttonous backslapping gathering of murder enablers?  Come on' you can guess. Princess Tiny Hands, Governor Abbot of Texas and Senator Ted Cruz. All of whom immediately said guns weren't the problem. AND Democrats should not use this random killing for "partisan advantage".

"Partisan advantage" here is that Democrats support back-ground checks, limits on high capacity magazines for semi-automatic guns in the house and requirements for concealed carry gun permits. All things most Americans (including Republicans) want.

But no, this trifecta brain trusts thinks it is the perfect week-end for "Freedom, Fireworks and the Second Amendment". The theme of the week-end gun orgy.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ah, The Supreme Court. Life is Sacred - until, you know, they are born



The Supreme Court has overruled a district court AND precedent - although that ain't new - in order to kill a man on death row. And any others in this situation.

So what is "this" situation. Well, you can read it all here. But essentially the problem is that if the Court appoints a bad attorney, you can ask for a retrial. In the retrial you may be appointed a new attorney, with no promise they are better. You can appeal. This is called out in the 6th amendment:


Previous precedent from the Supreme Court, says you can appeal again if the second Attorney was also bad. In this case "bad" led this man to death row. (Martinez v. Ryan)

Court appointed lawyers are usually overworked and not always convinced of their clients innocence. These people aren't bad actors, but overworked people that don't have the time to check everything.

In this particular case, it was a rather gruesome sex and murder trail of a woman and her child. Like gruesome! Full account of trail and problematic issues here. But in this case, the defendant's lawyer did not do a very good job. I'll quote from the article:

“Had Jones’s lawyers been up to the task, there was plenty they could have done to defend their client. They could have pointed out that the lead detective, who examined Rachel at the hospital, didn’t bother to investigate how or when the child sustained her fatal injury — or consider a single other suspect aside from Jones. They could have called a medical expert to show that there was no real evidence that the child had been raped. Most crucially, Jones’s lawyers could have called a pathologist to challenge the state’s theory of the crime, which rested on a narrow timeframe during which Jones had supposedly assaulted Rachel the day before her death. Medical experts now say that Rachel’s abdominal injury could not have become fatal so quickly.”

So what changed. This is a crazy ass right wing court. 

The ruling, written by Clarence Thomas, says that only the evidence introduced by the (bad) attorney can be used in the appeal. So it the first attorney screwed up, THEN you can't prove later that the evidence showed the defendant could not have done it, because the bad attorney did not introduce that evidence.

In Arizona right now, this circular logic is now keeping the defendant on Death Row - even though he is innocent. America!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Now THAT'S a name!

 Every now and then you go down the rabbit hole.

I got a morning email from Likewise about "romantic movies that you can't watch with you kids". And I am always looking for the right thing to watch with Eddie, so I check it out. One of the shows starts Hero Finnes.

Our Hero

Hero Finnes, I think, I wonder if he - or she, hard to tell from the name, is related to Jeff and Ralph Finnes.

Turns out he is. That is one handsome family! (okay, Ralph doesn't work for me, but Joseph kind of does). 

He is Ralph and Joseph's nephew. And his full name is.. (wait for it)... Hero Beauregard Faulkner Fiennes Tiffin. Now that is one hell of a name. (Also, are all British "Ralphs" pronounced "Raif", because I like it.

But I am even more interested to see that he is from the Wikipedia entry family of Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes family.

If you check on wikipedia, there is a long list of Barons, Viscounts, Deans and politicians. It's quite the family history.

He is also a model, but most of the pics are, meh. However, the new campaign for Superdry is sweet.




Saturday, May 21, 2022

WCS Scientists Provide More than 50K Camera Trap Images for Massive Study on Amazon Wildlife

This is fascinating footage. Watch the video. Basically it talks about a new massive archive of images from Amazonia Hidden Cameras. A group is working to compile all these disparate images into one database. The images in the video are cool.


Friday, May 20, 2022

Once More into Cetinje

 So I did say I was going to talk a bit more about Cetinje. I kind of love this tiny ass little place. It only has about 15,000 people, but is about 20 minutes to the new capital of Montenegro which is Podgorica, but was Titograd. It is also about 20 minutes away from the coast and about 35 minutes away from Kotor. Unless you take the mountain road in which case it is a heart-attack away from Kotor.

I am going to put a history here (as noted in LINK) of MY pictures. There will be a break in the page, so you can see more or ignore it.

Cetinje, the capital

1482. Ivan Crnojević, Lord Zete, under pressure from the Turks, moved the capital of his small country from Obod to Cetinjska polja and there he erected the first court and then the monastery. The city got its name by the Cetina River, which protruded the field in those ancient times. 1499 Zeta fell into the hands of the Turks and from that moment Cetinje became the center of the only free space in the Balkans, and the surrounding areas of the core of freedom and independence, a symbol of resistance to all the oppressed Balkan peoples. he most significant development and progress of the town was not until the arrival of the power of the dynasty Petrović, when the center of events and decision-making moved to a small capital. Further development of the town continues i<...> and its culmination is experienced in the period of international recognition of Montenegro in 1878 until the beginning of World War I

Cetinje Handball

I love Men's Handball, called Team Handball in the United States to distinguish it from the game we play with hands only against a backboard.

The Cetinje Handball Team

Team Handball is like across of Waterpolo and Soccer, but on land, with your hands. It is played on a court about 10 feet longer and 5 feet wider than a basketball court. In fact, it plays (superficially) like Basketball. The differences are:

  • No dribbling
  • Three steps before you must pass or shot
  • Contact is allowed (to a point - like Soccer)

I would like to live for a while in a city with team handball, it looks fun to watch. In fact I did watch it at Beijing Olympics. In fact (get this) I saw Iceland play Egypt in Beijing 2008. That Olympics is where Iceland won only its fourth summer olympic medal, this in Handball in Beijing. It was a blast to see that team. AND, I was wearing my Iceland Futbool jersey - so it was cool! (Yes, I had an Icelandic National Team Futbool jersey - don't ask me why.)

HC Lovcen Cetinje is the team from Cetinje Montenegro - the old capital (more on that in the next post). I think most handball is played from about September to April - with finals in May. That makes sense because it is an indoor sport and played in places with winters (Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway among others). Anyway I would love to watch for a while and root for a team. Luckily they are all over Europe - except Britain and possibly Intaly.

I was reminded of handball when a Norwegian player came out last year, the first pro Handball player to do so.


You may (or may not) remember one of the handball players from Norway was an earlier Mascot of the Month. Kristian Kjelling. He is now a happily married man but I don't think the husband and wife have kids. Anyway, here he is from his prime, giving his best "Blue Steel Smolder".



This is funny if you know.

 Well, not funny ha ha. But funny, sad. Heartbreaking. And, even though it happened in a Hurricane Delayed game in Miami, we all remember....



Thursday, May 19, 2022

Now why didn't we know about this before!

 Oh my goodness, there are things we don't even know. There was a hearing on the right to Abortion in the United States and the Republicans brought in a Georgetown Law Student to be batshit crazy. She is (quoting): Foster is not some random nut that Republicans pulled off a soapbox at a subway station minutes before the hearing started. She is a Georgetown law school graduate who is paid $190,000 a year to be the president of Americans United for Life, one of the largest anti-abortion non-profits in the country.

And she swore under an oath to God and Country that this is true.

It was only one half-hour into Wednesday's congressional hearing on abortion access when it became clear that the Republican contributions to the day would be loonier than a QAnon message board.

"In places like Washington D.C.," fetuses are "burned to power the light's of the city's homes and streets," claimed Catherine Glenn Foster, who had, just minutes before, sworn not to lie under oath. The GOP-summoned witness let loose the wild and utterly false accusation that municipal electrical companies are powered by incinerated fetuses. 

"The next time you turn on the light, think of the incinerators," she said, apparently repeating a misleading talking point from the same anti-choice activists caught stashing fetuses at home. Everything on the right is psychological projection. 

Saw "A Strange Loop" yesterday

 Yesterday I went and saw "A Strange Loop" on Broadway. I missed it off-Broadway last year at Playwright's Horizon, but it got a ton of tony nominations so I thought I would see it.

Humm, my thoughts are tangled.

It is a show about a young, heavy-set, effeminate, and black queer man named Usher, who is writing a musical Six amazing singer and actors work to play everyone else, mainly in his head. The voices of disquiet, doubt, parents, teachers, sex, Tyler Perry and more. 

To quote the NY Times:

He’s facing a few hurdles, namely his intrusive thoughts, embodied by the same six actors who originated the roles in the 2019 Off Broadway premiere: L Morgan Lee, James Jackson Jr., John-Michael Lyles, John-Andrew Morrison, Jason Veasey and Antwayn Hopper. They give voice to his anxieties of being a plus-size Black queer man, his alcoholic father’s constant denigration and his mother’s pleas to stop running “up there in the homosexsh’alities” and produce a wholesome gospel play instead.

Through scenes that move between Usher’s interactions with the outside world, like a phone conversation with his mother or a hookup, and a constant congress with his most devastating notions of himself, “A Strange Loop” pulls off an amazing feat: condensing a complex idea, full of paradoxes and abstractions, into the form of a Broadway musical.

I mean that is all true, but it didn't fully work for me. I am afraid (like, truly afraid) that part of it was my hearing. In the first half, in particular, they tended to sing over each other. At first, I thought it might be the acoustics - Playwright's Horizon theater is smaller and easier to hear. But the other audience members didn't have that problem.

The second half of the show (even though there was no intermission) I kind of loved. It was only 3 or 4 set pieces, mainly sung by a single character. That I could hear easily, and they were better songs. It is funny, I felt super-positive at the end, even though in its entirety, pretty good.

The lead was good. He was nominated for a Tony, but 34 minutes into the show, he must have been hurt because there was an unexpected intermission of about 25 minutes, and the show restarted with the lead's understudy. 

The understudy's name was Kyle Ramar Freeman. He has obviously molded his acting to the story and match lead of the play. On the other hand, his voice was clear and sparkling - and made it so much easier for me to understand.

Is it "best musical"? Probably. It is nominated against Six - a mugging loud blast of a musical staring 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Things that make you go humm?

 


This is the logo of the Japanese National Football (Soccer) Team. Notice anything odd about it? I ask because Ed has a lovely windbreaker he got in Japan with this logo.

Nothing?

Not the fact that the bird actually has 3 legs?

That is one weird-ass three-legged bird.

Alternate Title: How to Lose Friends and Elections

 What?! Bill de Blasio giving advice? But then I read the article and I see the genius of his suggestions:

1. Never be on time. No matter what an ass people think you are, you know you are more powerful.

2. Fight with the police and call the police that work in our ports, airports and subways "rent-a-cops". That will go over big with the law and order crowd.

3. Tell citizens it's okay to defecate in the street. That has worked great for us New Yorkers!

4. Disappear for weeks at a time. Absence makes the hearts grow fonder.

5. Give Jill Biden a much bigger role. A much much bigger role. People loved it when I put Chirlane in charge of the city's multi-million art enrichment program. 

6. And, just one more, stop with the humble act. I told everyone what a freaking genius I am, and look how that worked for me.

ps-joking

This reminds me of a funny story

I saw this image and headline today and it reminded me of a funny story that follows after the picture.


So Hawaii is suffering from feral chickens. Apparently a hurricane knocked coops down and chickens got out. Over time they mated with "descendants of the ancestral red jungle fowl the Polynesians brought to the island over 800 years ago". They have done well and are now trying to figure out what to do with them.

Hawaii might want to understand the problem Los Angeles had with diseased ducks in Venice. A review:

Venice, California is an area within the city of Los Angeles. And it was created in the 1930s with canals and pathways for a  themed subdivision. Venice has since gone through binge and bust until about the 1980s, when it started once again to get very fashionable - and didn't stop. Those cute ass little-ish homes are worth a TON of money now. And all the owners are animal lovers and all love the ducks.

About 20 years ago, the Venice ducks got a disease that wasn't too awful for them, but killed migrating birds, and Venice is a key stop on the Pacific flyway. So the city decided to cull the ducks (cull means trap and kill, fyi). But the very upscale and liberals folks from Venice didn't want this cull to happen. They wanted to save the ducks. "Screw the migrating birds!" they said. Okay - they didn't say that, but that would be the result.

So one fine morning, news-crews are on the scene at 5AM. The city workers come in and are confronted by residents and activists who stop them from taking the ducks. After about 3 hours of standoff, the LA Mayor issues a statement that they will NOT cull the ducks. They will study the situation once again with experts and respond back to the people ASAP.

The next morning at 4AM without announcing it, the city went in and got the ducks before anyone was awake.

Okay, I'm not sure of the point of that story that needed to share - except that 1) Hawaii should be careful how they frame any answer and 2) I love that story.

Campaigns are now legally allowed to accept bribes (read on macduff)

Two decisions came out yesterday clearing the way for corporations and people to legally bribe campaigns. Okay, 1 legal way, and 1 defacto way.

The Supreme Court ruled that a politician who loaned his own campaign money can repay himself with donated funds well past the election. Rather than gobbledegook, let's take an example - I will use a Democrat for this to show it is bad on both sides.

Example, Diane Finestein - on her first run for Senate loans "herself" 2 million dollars for the campaign. Now she can do this because her husband is freaking RICH. And then the Finestein campaign runs ads talking about how oil companies should have their subsidies phased out and those subsidies should go to solar companies. 

After the election she still has money in her election fund, left over monies not spent - including her own $2 million. But since she loaned that to herself, she can pay it back from anywhere. So if a random solar corporation donates $2 million more to her campaign - even months after the election where the candidate has spread a pro-solar message, then she can pay herself back that $2,000,000 loan, even if she didn't use all that money. So yeah, that's bribery,

The other ruling is summarized well by the Atlantic, so I will just copy it.

Also yesterday, the Federal Election Commission said it has decided not to take action against Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign for routing hundreds of millions of dollars through third parties in order to circumvent disclosure laws. This has long been considered illegal, but the FEC deadlocked on doing anything about it. This is by design: The commission is split between Democratic and Republican appointees, which ensures that one party’s appointees—usually Republicans, who dislike existing regulations—can block enforcement. This has become the norm at the FEC. If violating the laws isn’t punishable, the laws might as well not exist.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A Little Down Today

 No big deal, just a little down.

Stories like this kind of kill me inside a piece at a time. Ezra Klein (New York Times podcaster) is speaking with Anne Applebaum today. They are discussing a book by Hannah Arendt. This is out of the blurb:

Arendt writes of entire populations who “had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.” She describes “the masses’ escape from reality” as “a verdict against the world in which they are forced to live and in which they cannot exist.” She points out that in societies riddled with elite hypocrisy, “it seemed revolutionary to admit cruelty, disregard of human values, and general amorality, because this at least destroyed the duplicity upon which the existing society seemed to rest.”


This is Hannah Arendt's words from1951 in a book called "The Origins of Totalitarianism". 1951!

 She was writing about Germany and Russia, circa 1930s and 1940s. For a moment let me pull back and say, I do not think Republicans circa 2022 are the same as Nazi's circa 1930s.

BUT, the trajectory is very similar. This is from Wikipedia:

...the Nazi Party might never have come to power had it not been for the Great Depression and its effects on Germany. By 1930, the German economy was beset with mass unemployment and widespread business failures. The Social Democrats and Communists were bitterly divided and unable to formulate an effective solution: this gave the Nazis their opportunity and Hitler's message, blaming the crisis on the Jewish financiers and the Bolsheviks, resonated with wide sections of the electorate. At the September 1930 Reichstag elections, the Nazis won 18% of the votes and became the second-largest party in the Reichstag after the Social Democrats.

I see a similar process playing out here. The National Socialists were not a dominate force in Germany politics, until the people were frustrated - even then, no more that 20% of the population supported them when they established a national regime. Again, I am NOT saying Republicans are Nazis, but we must learn from history. When a minority group takes over a government, the only method they have to stay in power is becoming mush less democratic, but still selling it as a democracy.

I think this same dynamic, is being played out similarly in the United States. And, it is worse here because we have ubiquitous media landscape - which was not the case before - of which many are constantly broadcasting scary news about whites being replaced, Democrats being pedophiles and killers, and corporations and schools indoctrinating children. On top of that, layer a Republican party that is less concerned with actual opinions and more concerned with power to force their views on the rest of us.

Monday, May 16, 2022

First - Good on Him

 It is always positive when a pro-player in any sport comes out while playing. There are plenty of LGBT men and women who play professional a recreational sports. And they need more role models. I played volleyball both in a league and with friends after I came out.

It would have been so much easier if I wasn't afraid of my shadow in High School (granted not all of that was the gay thing).

BUT

Can you believe he is only 17! I mean a) that takes a ton of guts because Soccer / Futball fans are not known for their understanding and b) 17! Playing professional at this young age. Crazy.



First Trip to "Little Island"



When Lynn was in New York, after England, we took a wander down to Little Island. This is a new park that is built on the pylons over the old White Start docks. FYI - White Star was the Titanic company, although they had other boats.


Anyway, the park is very nice - as you can see. It was built by Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg who both have offices in the area (they are married, even though Barry is pretty openly gay / bisexual). It is one of those parks in Manhattan that was paid to be created and private upkeep by individuals. This is common in Manhattan because rich people can afford upkeep - for example it is built into the cost of our condo for upkeep on Riverside Park.

So, although beautiful and expensive, it was free to the city and open to all.




And now for fun news

This week-end was also Eurovision week-end. Peacock, which is NBC / Comcast's stream service, is finally broadcasting it. Not out of any great reason, but they have hours of streaming to fill.

The US commentator was Johnny Weir, the ex-ice skater, current gay announcer and wearing of spectacular clothes. He commentated in a white outfit complete with Giant Angel Wings, making it impossible for him to sit down.

As for the competition, England finally had a chance with a good singer. But it was Ukraine's night. Ukraine's act was weird, but fun - and with an outpouring of support from Europe - pretty much swept the public's vote. Ukraine's act included a traditional fiddle, accordion, a rapper and an odd flute from the region! 

As for me, my favorite was an act I had not seen before. A Norwegian group of masked singers performing "Give That Wolf a Banana", a nod to Little Red Riding Hood and grandmother's sad fate. Here is the song if you want a laugh.

Before the good news, a round-up of US Shootings this Week-end

How was your week-end, Scott?

Well,  in blogger, the newest entry is at the top, so I am going to start with fucked up news, then post good stuff later (because there was lots of good stuff).

It was one of those week-ends that make many Americans say, “What the hell is going on?”.

 - In Buffalo New York, a few miles from Niagara Falls, an 18 year old white boy – infected with today’s propaganda that Democrats are replacing white people with minorities - entered a super-market in a Black neighborhood and shoot about 14 people, 10 of which died – all Black.

- The shooter had to drive over a hundred miles to kill all those people. Also note that because it was a white boy - his picture is NOT in the news stories. We do know he was a racist and infected with the newly restarted "replacement theory" being drummed up by Donald Trump, the Republican Party and Fox News by his written manifesto (summarized after the jump). 

 - In Orange County California, 6 people were shot and 1 died, from a church shooting. It was at a Taiwanese Church and it was an Asian attacker, so far without motive.

 - This time it was an Asian shooter that is in none of the photos.

 - In Houston Texas, 5 people were shot and 2 of them died at a shooting at a Flea Market (big-ass boot-sale for the Brits).

 - Neither of the two men involved in the shooting are shown.

 - In Chicago Illinois, three people were shot and 1 died in a shooting at the Millennium Park – a large new park downtown. Children are no longer allowed in the park after 6 PM without an adult.

 - There is a picture here of the suspect. What a surprise that he is black and the only 1 of the 4 suspects listed today with a picture shown.


Now these shootings, of course, are only the well published “mass” shootings from the week-end that made the national news.

The myriad of single shootings, self-inflicted gun-shot wounds and gun suicides are not counted.

So that is a snap-shot of US news. You must miss living here. Manifesto below.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Okay, Let's Not Be Too Negative

I must disagree

"From you, Scott? Positive? The biggest curmudgeon I know?"

Yes, for a moment let me try to be upbeat without sounding like Pollyanna. It is going to take a big gulp of clear eyed moments to see this, but let's try. 

You see the thing here is that humans love a "sky-is-falling" story. They love THAT sky-is-falling story. But life is more resilient than we expect. Our country has proven more resilient than we expect. So let's go to our worries and issues to cast an alternative future.

I will mark these worries as "C" when coming from conservatives and "L" when coming from liberals. Very few people fall in or worry about the middle, and they aren't quite as crazy, so let's ignore them for the moment. ALSO I am NOT saying the fears aren't real and very possibly the outcomes will be worse, but let's look to the bright side.

(C) Liberals are trying to destroy America via school and books that promote sex and perversion.
This is a periodic issue, normally raised around elections. This is being promoted by a movement that has no positive plans, so is using this as a wedge issue. It will fade - as it has faded before. There were (some successful and some failed) laws to remove gay teachers in the late 1970s. The hysteria quieted after the election.

(L) Conservatives are destroying the voting rights of minorities.
They are trying, but in the past 50 years, these suppression techniques haven't been successful. People find a way to vote. The laws are mean and horrible, but not successful. Jim Crow laws have been overturned and no painting of today's restrictions reach anywhere near Jim Crow laws.

About sums it up