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The Questions…

1. What is the only breed of dog that doesn’t bark?

2. Carrots weren’t always orange. The orange color appeared in the 1600s, when Dutch farmers began cultivating mutant strains, and the orange version turned out to be higher yielding and better tasting. What color were carrots originally?

3. In what month is Earth closest to the sun?

4. What is responsible for more allergic reactions than any other food or drink?

5. The ratel is a small mammal native to Africa, Asia, and India. By what name is the ratel better known?

The Answers…

1. The Basenji, a small hunting dog closely related to the non-domesticated Australian dingo. Basenjis and dingos vocalize with howls and yodels, but do not bark like most dog breeds.

2. Purple.

3. January. Paradoxically, we experience winter then because the earth’s axis is tilted, and the sun’s rays hit the planet at an angle at that time of year. In July, when we are farthest from the sun, its rays hit us more directly, and we have summer. Science.

4. Cow’s milk.

5. AKA the honey badger, a bad-tempered relative of weasels and martens. The label badger is a misnomer.

Militarized

I have ranted on this blog numerous times about Donald Trump, vile Republican politicians, empty-headed conservative voters, and the Fox News bubble. I have opined often that the Trump presidency would not end well, which was a safe and easy prediction.

Still, I didn’t expect it to end with the Kafkaesque spectacle of white supremacists, at Trump’s invitation, storming the Capitol while Congress was in session, with an eye toward maybe killing some politicians and derailing the certification of Joe Biden as President so the Republicans could somehow arrange for Trump to remain in office.

Nor did I expect law enforcement to leave the Capitol so vulnerable under the ominous circumstances in Washington on January 6. At best, it was a shocking intelligence failure. At worst, it means the insurrection was abetted by people on the inside; Frankly, I suspect both.

Clearly, the mob should have been kept well away from the Capitol from the beginning. The Capitol should have been ringed by heavily-armed forces ready to crack heads as necessary — like how they do when facing non-Caucasians.

At this stage, we don’t know with certainty how the riots went down or who, through action or inaction, was complicit in the events. All we know for sure is that Trump specifically told the crowd to march on the Capitol — for which he was slapped with Impeachment Number Two.

But this much is clear: the riots were not carried out by a Trump “MAGA crowd.” The attackers were hard-core, dedicated white supremacists and domestic terrorists who simply accepted Trump’s invitation to take action on his behalf. Trump gave them a window of opportunity, and they took it.

Some of the groups have been around for years, some are new. Many of the leaders are known to the authorities and are on FBI terrorism watch lists. Essentially, they are Nazis and Fascists, and possibly a few anarchists.

In case you need a visual aid:

Simply put, the events of January 6, and whatever further turmoil is ahead of us, is a matter of politics being militarized. Fringe groups have escalated the left-right divide into violence aimed at the government.

And we got here solely and specifically because of the political right wing and its decades-long descent into madness.

Make no mistake, the Democrats are literally blameless. This mess is the fault of the Conservative Republicans, their wacko supporters, and right-wing media.

The descent began, you can argue, when Newt Gingrich got the idea of turning politics into warfare. As GOP House Speaker in the 1990s, Newt didn’t simply oppose the Democratic side, he demonized it. He actively blocked any bills the Democrats proposed because Democrats were made out to be sinister, dangerous, evil.

Gingrich also distributed two lists of specific “trigger” words Republicans should use, one list to promote themselves and the GOP, the other to scorn and belittle Democrats.

Among the words to apply to themselves: courage, liberty, pride, duty, vision, moral, pioneer, principled, and rights.

Among the words to label Democrats: pathetic, bizarre, corrupt, hypocrisy, incompetent, welfare, decay, and greed.

Republicans being Republicans, they embraced Newt’s ideas like hyenas at a fresh kill.

The GOP House Speaker after Gingrich, child-molester Dennis Hastert, contributed the “Hastert rule,” under which no bill was brought up for a vote unless a majority of Republicans supported it. In effect, this ended the concept of negotiating with the opposition and achieving bi-partisan cooperation.

From there, we entered the era in which Mitch McConnell controlled the Senate, and the concept of bi-partisanship was euthanized.

I can’t help it; when I hear Mitch McConnell, I always think Merrick Garland.

Trump has a few days left in his term. The Capitol in DC and most state capitols are on alert for more violence from domestic terrorists. Trump is said to be contemplating a self-pardon and possibly a blanket pardon for his white supremacist rioter friends.

He also plans to have Joint Base Andrews give him a rousing military send-off. I will think of it as a “goodbye and good riddance” party.

When Trump became the Republican nominee for President, I posted this indignant assertion:

Trump is a walking affront to civilized behavior. He continues to make outrageous, caustic statements that, in normal times, in a normal reality, would earn him the ire and scorn of the entire populace and send him slinking back to Trump Tower. But this is the era of the Fox News bubble. And Trump is the Frankenstein monster it created.

Given the insanity that has occurred since then, given the horrific death toll from a virus Trump allowed to spread, given the widespread damage inflicted on this poor country by Trump and his conservative enablers, calling the man a Frankenstein monster was a grave understatement.

Gingrich, Hastert, McConnell, and Trump, respectively.

Pix o’ the Day

More random photos I’ve taken over the years that still make me smile.

Two Points of View

In Florida

In late December, a resident of The Villages, a community for seniors in central Florida, submitted the icy letter below to Villages-News.com.

I can relate. I feel her anger and indignation and share it. Huge numbers of Americans indeed have “monstrous beliefs.” And they feel free to act on them, thanks to being emboldened by an unhinged president and an insane political right wing.

———

To the Editor:

No, Biden’s rallies weren’t bigger. No, you didn’t see any Biden flags on houses or Biden bumper stickers on cars. No, you don’t know a single person on your street or at your church who supports Biden. But guess what? We’re here.


Biden’s rallies were small because people who live in reality don’t want to expose themselves to the virus you continue to downplay or deny.

We don’t fly Biden flags because we don’t want our houses burned down. We don’t put Biden bumper stickers on our cars because we want to avoid becoming targets for road rage. We don’t trust you. We decided to minimize our interactions with people who cannot be reasoned with. This is for our own safety.

In private groups — where you’re not invited — we share our bewilderment of your descent into madness. We all have stories about how we’ve cut ties with you, our family and former friends, because we don’t want your hatred poisoning our social media streams. We can’t stand to listen to you vomiting the lies of your cult, day after day.

You used to be different. We liked you. But now that we know what was inside you heart all along, we’ve decided you don’t deserve to know about our lives.

We’ll skip family reunions, even after we get the vaccine. We’ll make up some excuse just to be polite. But in reality, we just don’t feel like sitting around eating potato salad and making small talk with people who have such monstrous beliefs.

To all the brothers and aunts and cousins and dads and neighbors out there who just can’t wrap their heads around what this means going forward, know that these scars aren’t going away anytime soon. We won’t be reaching out, and we won’t be mending fences. Its not up to us to apologize for the wounds you have gleefully inflicted upon us and our friends.

You poured the gasoline, you lit the match. You burned this to the ground. So if we seem different from now on, I guess we are, in a way. We’ve seen your truth laid bare, and we’re horrified. I hope Trump was worth it.

Katie Schnessel
Village of Polo Ridge

———

In Georgia

According to my local newspaper the Jackson Herald, county officials here and in several other Georgia counties received a threatening email just prior to the January 5 Georgia runoff election.

The Herald was kind enough to share with us the text of the email, redacted for sensitive readers. Buckle up.

———

F_CKING HEAR THIS JACKSON COUNTY OR D!E

This election is f_cking rigged. You all know it and all of you are COMPLICIT as F_CK! No one should vote for these corrupt RINOs who abandoned Trump and our party when he needed them the most, and when its clear something fishy as f_ck happened here.

There is NO WAY Biden won the most votes in history. That is totally bullsh_t and self-evident. And then B_TCH McConnell wants to only give us $600 of OUR money when our businesses are dying? When even the DEMONcrats are pushing for more, your doing something WRONG.

Even Pence has shown he’s just a big p_ssy that will roll over on Trump. Where the F_CK is the loyalty? WHAT F_CKING HAPPENED to our party??? This corrupt party has left our Moral Authority, lost its d_mn balls and forgotten its most loyal supporters.

We cannot trust RINO Kemp or Loeffler or Perdue or ANYONE who is not 100% standing by OUR PRESIDENT. This sh_t is rigged, Trump called it MONTHS ago, and until Trump is guaranteed to be POTUS until 2024 like he should be, we will bring death and destruction to defend this country if needed and get our voices heard.

Anything and anyone in this county that stands in his and our way is an enemy to us and DEMOCRACY. We need signature verification. We need a special session. We need a Constitutional Amendment to make sure this bullsh_t never happens again. Loeffler and Perdue and the rest of our state’s SH_TTY politicians have shown their true colors in November and are clearly NOT on the side of OUR PRESIDENT.

We don’t need more power-hungry anti-democracy RINOs. Anyone who supports them or the COMMUNISTS can f_cking die. All of you and anyone who supports this vile sh_t. We are past playing nice. We’ll make the Boston bombings look like child’s play at the poll sites in this county. You just f_cking WAIT.

This country was founded on righteous war, and if this is what is required of us to defend our very democracy, we will step forward. We will hit every poll site, government office and beyond until every RINO is out of office and Trump stays where he f_cking belongs.

Whoever does not support OUR PRESIDENT does not deserve to call themselves a REPUBLICAN. You all are FAKER than the FAKE NEWS. F_CK Loeffler and Perdue and Kike-lover Kemp and our Secretary of SH_T. Give us some d_mn integrity. We WILL secure our EXISTENCE from your twink agenda. Only state in the South that went to Biden? Yeah F_CKING right! Not suspicious at all!!

Throw out the corruption immediately or we Patriots will END YOU all. And everyone who supports this SH_T. You have less than 3 days. LOOK UP TATP motherF_CKERS…we’re ready.

(Note: TATP is triacetone triperoxide, an explosive.)

ANYONE WHO VOTES FOR DEMONCRATS OR THESE CORRUPT-AS-F_CK RINOS PERDUE AND LOEFFER, who won’t support OUR RIGHTFUL PRESIDENT and loudly boycott this COUP of our party and country, are unworthy to live in this Great Country.

Therefore ANYONE at these poll sites is worthy of our wrath. Detonations will occur at every polling site set up in this county. No one at these places will be spared unless and until Trump is guaranteed to be POTUS again… anyone who votes for either corrupt-as-F_CK party until then is a traitor to the Constitution and our greatest enemy. You will face our righteous wrath.

You too f_cking bucktooth N_GGER CUNT ABRAMS and KORRUPT KEMP and ANY other SO-CALLED REPUBLICAN who supports this coup. DEATH TO THE SOCIALIST KIKES AND RINOS.

If you think we’re bluffing, f_cking TRY us. Youve been warned. We will end you all. See you soon.

#thisistyranny #libertyordeath #wethePATRIOTS

———

Goodness gracious.

According to the Herald, the closing hashtags are “affiliated with right-wing social media and conspiracy sites.” It also said law enforcement was aware of the threat to bomb polling places and had taken unspecified precautions.

Being a journalism major and not a mental health professional, I can’t adequately explain the mentality on display here. But I did minor in psychology, and I have some suspicions regarding overcompensation for perceived personal shortcomings.

This Just In

MILAN, ITALY — Customs officials in Milan intercepted a suspicious package from Colombia and found 130 grams of cocaine hidden inside hollowed-out coffee beans.

The officials investigated because the package was addressed to a crime boss in a John Wick movie. Members of the Guardia di Finanza, which deals with financial crimes and smuggling, observed that the package was addressed to Santino D’Antonio, a character from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

The package contained over 500 coffee beans that had been scooped out, filled with powdered cocaine, and resealed with brown tape.

The cocaine was confiscated, and the package was delivered to its final destination, a tobacco shop in Florence. A 50-year-old man who showed up to claim the package was arrested.

OLATHE, KANSAS — A dog that disappeared from her family’s home in Olathe was found a week later at the family’s previous residence 60 miles away in Lawson, Missouri.

Cleo, a four-year-old golden retriever, turned up at the Lawson home of Colton Michael. Cleo’s microchip revealed that she belonged to Drew Feeback, who had sold the house to Michael two years earlier.

Michael checked Facebook, found a post from Feeback about the missing dog, and Cleo was returned to her family.

Olathe, Kansas, and Lawson, Missouri, are located on opposite sides of the Kansas City metro area and on opposite banks of the Missouri River. No one knows how Cleo made the journey.

UEHLFELD, GERMANY — A Uehlfeld brewery has been forced to halt beer production because storks, a protected species in Germany, built a nest in one of the factory’s chimneys.

A family of storks built the nest at the Zwanzger Brewery in early spring, and the baby storks have since hatched. The brewery planned to relocate the nest so production could resume, but new coronavirus restrictions temporarily prevented it.

Brewer Christian Zwanzger said his stock of beer is running low, but he thinks production will be back to normal shortly. He said Uehlfeld is fond of the storks, which often return to the same spots every year. The town has about 35 nests.

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● A New Year tradition in Colombia is to wear yellow underwear to ensure a year of happiness. Another is to walk around the block carrying a suitcase, in hopes you will travel a lot.

● The longest golf hole in the world is the third hole at Gunsan Country Club in Gunsan, South Korea. The hole is 1,100 yards long (about .6 miles) and par 7.

● The body of an average adult human has a water content of about 60 percent. Jellyfish are about 95 percent water.

● The desert scenes from five of the first six Star Wars movies were filmed in Tunisia. Most notably, scenes from Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine were shot there. Several of the abandoned film sets have become tourist attractions.

● On September 2, 1666, a fire began in a small London bakery. Firefighters tried to create firebreaks to stop the spread, but high winds fanned the blaze into a firestorm that was unstoppable. By the next day, the Great Fire of London had burned 80 percent of the city.

● Light from the sun reaches the earth in an average of eight minutes, 20 seconds. The time varies according to the distance at the moment, of course.

● Only about 25 percent of babies are born on the due date predicted by the doctor.

● Koalas have fingerprints almost identical to humans, chimps, and gorillas, even though most other marsupials (kangaroos, wombats) have no fingerprints at all.

Thoughts du Jour

Fit for a King

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, built in the late 1800s by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, is a real-life fairytale/fairyland castle. No surprise, it was the inspiration for the royal castle in the Disney film Sleeping Beauty, as well as for the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland.

Ludwig built several spiffy castles during his reign and, to his credit, paid for them with his personal fortune, not public funds. But he overreached with Neuschwanstein, and the costs soon had him in serious debt.

After borrowing heavily from relatives and every financial institution that would listen, Ludwig finally asked the Bavarian government to bail him out. His cabinet said no.

Serious rancor ensued. The situation escalated. Eventually, Ludwig was declared mentally ill and unfit to serve. He tried to flee the country, but was caught and detained at a remote estate near Munich.

A few days later, he and one of the doctors who declared him a mental case went for a walk along the shore of a mountain lake. The next morning, both men were found dead in waist-deep water. The doctor’s body showed unexplained signs of head and neck injuries.

The coroner declared Ludwig’s death a suicide by drowning. He said the doctor’s cause of death could not be determined due to lack of evidence. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Neuschwanstein Castle was completed a short time later and was opened to the public. It remains a popular tourist attraction today.

The Holiday Tree

Years ago, when my dad retired, Mom announced her retirement, too — from cooking. At the time, Mom was reassessing her life and making changes she felt were in order. Ergo, for Mom and Dad, a new era of pizza deliveries and eating out began.

Another of her changes concerned the Christmas tree. Mom said she was tired of the annual hassle of spending time decorating it, then, a few weeks later, reversing the process and hauling everything back to the attic. So she decided to leave the tree up permanently.

Thereafter, the Christmas tree became the Holiday Tree. Mom changed the decorations to reflect the seasons and holidays as appropriate.

After Christmas, it became the New Year Tree. Then the Winter Tree. Then the Easter Tree. Then the Springtime Tree. You get the idea.

The tree — artificial, of course — stood in one corner of a large rec room (formerly the carport, which the previous owner had enclosed), so having a six-foot tree in the house was never a problem.

In truth, Mom invested more time and energy in the Holiday Tree than she ever had in ordinary Christmas trees, but she and Dad thoroughly enjoyed it. They especially had fun collecting decorations.

I thought about doing the same thing myself, but decided against it. The hassle factor, you know.

Me at Mom and Dad’s house, Christmas 1998.

Unconventional

In the late 1920s, William M. Marston (1893-1947), a Harvard-educated psychologist, invented a device that measured blood pressure. His wife Elizabeth observed that when she got mad or excited, her blood pressure inevitably increased.

A light bulb came on over William’s head, and he contacted the inventor of the polygraph (lie detector). Result: The blood pressure device became an integral part of the polygraph.

The Marstons were, shall we say, an unconventional couple. Both were dedicated feminists, and, quietly, fans of BDSM. Eventually, the couple invited a like-minded friend, Olive Byrne, to live with them.

William had two children by each woman. Elizabeth pursued her career as an attorney and psychologist while Olive cared for the trio’s four children.

William had dabbled in writing since his college days and had published a series of self-help books. The itch to write later led him to a job at DC Comics as an educational consultant and occasional writer.

In 1941, his affinity for feminism, writing, and the bondage thing led him to create the character Wonder Woman, the first female superhero.

You may be aware that ropes (e.g., the Lasso of Truth) and being tied up are suspiciously regular Wonder Woman themes.

William wrote Wonder Woman stories until his death in 1947. Elizabeth and Olive continued living together until Olive died in 1990 at age 86. Elizabeth died in 1993, age 100.

Stranger than fiction.

Quotes o’ the Day

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

###

America will never be destroyed from the outside.

Abraham Lincoln

###

Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.

Benjamin Franklin

###

This above all: to thine own self be true.

William Shakespeare

Cousteau

Shakespeare

Tune o’ the Day

Being a devoted fan of 80s alternative rock, I tune out most songs of other genres — hip-hop, country, soul, Italian opera. In the case of hip-hop, I tune it out completely.

But an occasional song in those lesser categories turns out to have merit. Hip-hop excluded, of course. One of those is “Slip Away” by Clarence Carter.

Carter was born in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1936 (he is now 84). He earned a BS in Music in 1960 and began a career as a soul singer. He started out as half of the duo “Clarence and Calvin” with Calvin Scott, but soon went solo.

Although “Slip Away” is one of his best-known songs, his infamous “Strokin’” also gets plenty of attention. “Strokin’” which is too bawdy for radio or TV, found a niche on jukeboxes and in strip clubs.

Slip Away,” I assure you, is safely G-rated.

Slip Away

By Clarence Carter, 1968
Written by William Armstrong, Marcus Daniel, and Wilbur Terrell

What would I give
For just a few moments.
What would I give
Just to have you near.

Tell me you will try
To slip away somehow.
Oh, I need you, darling.
I want to see you right now.

Can you slip away.
Slip away.
Slip away.
Oh, I need you so.

Love, oh, love,
How sweet it is
When you steal it, darling.
Let me tell you somethin’ now.

How sweet it is.

Now I know it’s wrong,
The things I ask you to do.
But please believe me, darling,
I don’t mean to hurt you.

But could you just slip away
Without him knowing you’re gone?
Then we could meet somewhere —
Somewhere where we both are not known.

And just can you slip away.
Slip away.
Slip away.
I need you so.

Oh, can you slip away, baby.
I’d like to see you right now, darling.
Can you slip away now, baby.
‘Cause I got to, I got to see you.
I feel a deep burning inside.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/slip-away.mp3

Christmas Letters

When I was a kid, a few people of our acquaintance, maybe old friends of my parents or distant cousins, wrote annual Christmas letters to update us on events of the previous year. Nothing unusual about that. It’s a fairly common practice.

I remember those missives as being rambling, melodramatic, and bristling with exclamation marks! I also recall the greeting “Dear All” being used, so copies could go to both relatives and friends.

To my recollection, we didn’t hear from the letter-writers again until the next Christmas letter. And, in truth, I haven’t read a Christmas letter in years, since no close relatives wrote the things.

The letter-poem below is satirical, but some people think the author tempers his shots with a touch of fondness; he is more gentle than he could have been because, in general, we perceive the senders’ intentions as being innocent and mostly positive. Fair enough.

As for the origin of “The Christmas Letter,” I found no details, but it was published as early as 1977.

As for the author, it may or may not be John Nelson Morris, a professor of English Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, who died in 1997.

Anyway, to all y’all, Merry Christmas !!!!

———

The Christmas Letter

By John N. Morris

Wherever you are when you receive this letter
I write to say we are still ourselves
in the same place
and hope you are the same.

The dead have died as you know
and will never get better,
and the children are boys and girls
of their several ages and names.

So in closing I send you our love
and hope to hear from you soon.
There is never a time
like the present. It lasts forever
wherever you are. As ever I remain.