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Posts Tagged ‘Society’

Just one day after 100 CEOs threatened to withhold financial support from the two Republican senators facing runoffs in Georgia, the Trump Administration relented and okayed Biden’s formal transition as President-Elect.

Technically, the head of the GSA finally did her job and signed off on Biden’s victory. Word is, Trump allowed it after aides assured him he wouldn’t be required to concede.

I remain astounded by the guy’s utter lack of class, integrity, and decency. What a putz.

We had to endure four years of President Grab-Em because an appalling number of people convinced themselves that a vote for Trump was better than siding with those awful bleeding-heart socialist lib-tards.

The Trump faithful justified their votes by embracing as truth the obvious lies and propaganda fed to them by their right-wing thought leaders. What a bunch of putzes.

A few decades ago, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) observed, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

That truism is especially relevant today, in this era of (1) Trump, (2) a particularly vile crop of Republican politicians, and (3) the MAGA crowd, our new national embarrassment. That’s quite a villainous trifecta, and all three are happy to dream up facts of their own liking.

A while back, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) illustrated Moynihan’s point by falsely attributing the quote to — who else? — Ronald Reagan. That’s called irony, people.

Moynihan was a centrist Democrat and much more of an intellectual than most politicians. He noted one key difference between the political left and right:

“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”

A valid point, but unfortunately for us, the conservatives figured out ways to militarize culture and thus have weakened and perverted politics to the breaking point.

One wretched example: we continue to set records daily for COVID infections and deaths, even though we could take simple steps to protect ourselves. The conservatives sabotaged any hope of that by politicizing the wearing of face masks. Facts be damned.

Or consider that, with exceptions you can count on both hands, America’s Republican politicians, elected and appointed, remain silent while Trump pouts, refuses to admit he lost the election, delayed Biden’s transition, and schemes to stay in office by any means he can gin up. Facts be damned.

Or consider that three-quarters of Republican voters say they think Biden won because of voter fraud, a claim that is not only false, but delusional.

It’s a fact that Trump voters have been conditioned to think in ways that defy logic and ignore reality. Their thought processes, however, are easy enough to follow.

In their minds, “minorities” dominate population centers such as Detroit and Atlanta, and “minorities” are known to be, well, less honest than, you know, real Americans.

To the MAGA faithful, it’s as simple as that. The big-city “minorities” are unscrupulous people who could, would, and did engage in voter fraud on a massive scale.

Any evidence of that? None at all. Zero.

Facts be damned.

It boggles the mind that one-third of the American population is aboard the right-wing crazy train. They have chug-a-lugged the Republican Kool-Aid and liberated themselves from any obligation to acknowledge reality.

I wouldn’t know how that feels because I’m a rational adult. I use my brain. And my brain has questions.

My brain wants to know why Donald Trump and a long list of cowardly, craven Republican officials, elected and appointed, are not already facing criminal charges for malfeasance in office, dereliction of duty, and betraying their country.

My brain wants to know why Biden and the Democrats haven’t already taken that whole contemptible bunch to court.

Democrats, it’s fair to say, are not as skilled as Republicans at playing political hardball. It’s just a simple fact that liberals are not as mean, sneaky, and underhanded as conservatives.

Well, the Dems need to toughen up, because the lunatic right wing seems perfectly willing to bring down the house. That’s a sobering thought.

For now, however, Biden and Harris won, demonstrating that decency and integrity are not dead.

But God knows what’s ahead of us.

One last point: when you think about the damage caused over the course of the Trump years, don’t forget the example his actions and behavior have set — and, for now, continue to set.

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Tune o’ the Day

According to members of the Canadian rock band The Guess Who, their 1970 hit “American Woman” is not, as many think, an anti-war song or an attack on U.S. politics (the lines about war machines and ghetto scenes notwithstanding). Rather, it’s a declaration that the guys in the band prefer Canadian girls because they’re nicer.

Lead singer Burton Cummings, who composed the lyrics, described American girls as “well, dangerous,” and after a long tour, “it was a real treat to go home and see the girls we had grown up with.”

Cummings said both the music and the lyrics to “American Woman” were improvised. During a concert, the band paused while guitarist Randy Bachman replaced a broken string. When tuning the guitar, Bachman spontaneously played a riff the band liked.

Before resuming the concert, they paused for a brief jam session based on the riff. Cummings improvised the first of the lyrics on the spot, and the tune was finalized later.

That story seems plausible, considering that neither the melody nor the lyrics are what you’d call deep or sophisticated.

American Woman

By The Guess Who, 1970
Written by Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, and Garry Peterson

American woman gonna mess your mind.
American woman, she gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.

Say A
Say M
Say E
Say R
Say I
C
Say A
N, mmm

American woman gonna mess your mind.
Mmm, American woman gonna mess your mind.
Uh — American woman gonna mess your mind.

Uh!

American woman, stay away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door.
I don’t wanna see your face no more.
I got more important things to do
Than spend my time growin’ old with you.

Now woman, I said stay away.
American woman, listen what I say.

American woman, get away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.
Don’t come a-knockin’ around my door.
Don’t wanna see your shadow no more.
Colored lights can hypnotize.
Sparkle someone else’s eyes.
Now woman, I said get away.
American woman, listen what I say, hey.

American woman, I said get away.
American woman, listen what I say.
Don’t come a-hangin’ around my door.
Don’t wanna see your face no more.
I don’t need your war machines.
I don’t need your ghetto scenes.
Colored lights can hypnotize.
Sparkle someone else’s eyes.
Now woman, get away from me.
American woman, mama, let me be.

Go, gotta get away, gotta get away.
Now go, go, go.
I’m gonna leave you, woman.
Gonna leave you, woman.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.
Bye-bye.

You’re no good for me.
I’m no good for you.
Gonna look you right in the eye.
Tell you what I’m gonna do.
You know I’m gonna leave.
You know I’m gonna go.
You know I’m gonna leave.
You know I’m gonna go, woman.
I’m gonna leave you, woman.
Goodbye, American woman.

https://rockysmith.files.wordpress.com/2020/10/american-woman.mp3

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● In thickness, the earth’s atmosphere is roughly proportional to the skin of an apple.

● The 1985 movie “Back to the Future” was turned down by several Hollywood studios before Universal bought the rights. Disney rejected it specifically because of the scene in which Marty kisses his mother.

● More Samoans live in Los Angeles than in American Samoa.

● In Italian, the word fettuccine means “little ribbons.” Linguini means “little tongues.” Vermicelli means “little worms.” Rotini means “little wheels.” Spaghetti means “strings.” And penne means “pens” (for their resemblance to ink pens).

● Inside the word therein are nine other words, all in proper order without rearranging the letters: the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, ere, and herein. Numerous other words are lurking inside therein if you rearrange the letters — e.g., tree, tin, hit, nit.

● Ketchup originated in China in the 1600s as a condiment made of pickled fish and assorted spices — but no tomatoes. When ketchup reached England in the 1700s, the primary ingredients were mushrooms, shallots, and assorted spices — but still no tomatoes.

A tomato-based version of ketchup finally appeared in the early 1800s. For a time, it was pitched in the U.S. as a cure for rheumatism, jaundice, indigestion. scurvy, and more. It was even sold in pill form. The claims grew steadily more ridiculous until the 1850s, when the medicinal ketchup market collapsed, and ketchup settled down to being solely a condiment again.

● Queen Elizabeth II is said to be an excellent mimic, and she sometimes entertains the family by doing impressions of politicians she has met over the years.

● The world’s smallest known bird is the bee hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae), a native of Cuba. On average, males are 2.2 inches long and weigh .07 ounces. Females are slightly larger and heavier.

● When President Harry Truman was born, his parents couldn’t decide whether his middle name should be Solomon, to honor one grandfather, or Shipp, to honor the other. They finally went with a middle name of just “S” to honor both.

● Psychiatrists and psychologists recognize three levels of mental retardation: severe, moderate, and mild. The severely retarded (called idiots until the 1960s) have IQs between 0 and 25. The moderately retarded (formerly called imbeciles) have IQs between 26 and 50. The mildly retarded (formerly morons) have IQs between 51 and 79. If you score an 80, you’re good to go.

● In 24 hours, a single bacterium in a Petri dish can multiply to one billion.

● Vanilla was first cultivated in Central America in the 1400s. Growing the pods is labor-intensive and costly (only saffron is a more expensive spice), so 95 percent of commercial vanilla is artificially made from the chemical lignin. The world’s leading producer of real vanilla is the island nation of Madagascar.

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

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Ejected

I’m not one to drink alcohol before the sun goes down, but yesterday afternoon, I poured myself two fingers of brandy to toast the victory of our next President, Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Donald Trump, the turd in the national punchbowl for four long, grueling, wretched years, soon will be gone.

As thankful as I am for this turn of events, it’s a fact that the punchbowl itself will remain contaminated for a long time.

If you doubt that, consider that 70 million people voted to give Trump a second term in office. 70 million people.

They did it in spite of his blatant treason, his dismal performance, his appalling record, his bungling of everything, including the pandemic, his lying, his cheating, his utter lack of character and decency.

No person of sound mind — nobody — could justify a vote for Trump. The 70 million reasons for doing so simply indicate that those people, all of them, have some kind of mental or emotional abnormality that told them a vote for Trump was okay.

It wasn’t okay. It was perverse.

Those people voted for Trump because of — take your pick — madness, delusion, stupidity, or hate.

In large part, we can thank decades of brainwashing by Fox News and the wingnut conservatives for that.

For a host of reasons, the Trump voters and supporters are damaged people, and they have damaged American society terribly. What further harm they will cause remains to be seen.

What further harm Trump will cause remains to be seen.

I still wonder if Trump and his family might choose to defect to Russia or Saudi Arabia. Trump knows he will face a reckoning, legal and financial, after he leaves office. Even Deutschebank, his only source of funding besides the Russian oligarchs, has plans to call in his loans.

So, think about it, Donald. Maybe defecting is the way to go. You’ll have Putin’s protection, and you can still Tweet from Moscow.

In fact, why wait? Go now, just to be safe. Okay?

Ejected.

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The Questions…

1. Only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World remains largely intact. Which one?

2. What is a parietal eye?

3. What is the best-selling book series of all time?

4. So far, humans have survived on earth for two million years. How long did the dinosaurs last?

5. In 1965, what American vehicle set a record, which still stands, for the most units sold in a single year?

The Answers…

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza.

2. A small, light-sensitive third “eye” atop the head of many reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Its function is to warn of aerial threats. The eye is covered by skin and usually isn’t visible externally. It is present in most lizards, frogs, and sharks.

3. The Harry Potter books. More than 500 million copies of the eight Harry Potter novels have been sold.

4. 150 million years.

5. The Chevrolet Impala. In 1965, GM sold 1,046,514 Impalas. The list price was $3,600.

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I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius, and we’re skeptical.

Arthur C. Clarke

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I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

Michelangelo

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I want to be the white man’s brother, not his brother-in-law.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Puritanism — the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

H. L. Mencken

Clarke
Mencken

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In 1880, the renowned French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) was commissioned to create a pair of mighty bronze doors to serve as the entrance to a proposed Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris. The museum’s backers wanted the doors to be majestic and dramatic, inasmuch as grandiloquence was in vogue at the time.

Rodin was certainly the right guy in that department, and he delivered. For the project, he chose the theme The Gates of Hell, based on Dante’s epic poem The Inferno. Here is one of Rodin’s early small-scale models.

The centerpiece of the scene, as you see, is a seated nude male, envisioned by Rodin as Dante pondering his poem. The figure was to be centered on the lintel above the doors.

Unfortunately, the project eventually fizzled. The museum was never built, and the doors were temporarily forgotten, although they were highly regarded and were cast some years after Rodin’s death.

But Rodin was a resourceful dude, and he cast and sold many of the figures in the scene individually, most notably the seated male figure that became known as The Thinker.

Initially, Rodin called the figure The Poet, meaning Dante Alighieri. But workers in Rodin’s foundry began referring to the figure as The Thinker. They said the pose reminded them of Michelangelo’s statue at the tomb of Lorenzo de Medici — a work known as Il Pensieroso, which in Italian means the pensive or thoughtful one.

This is Michelangelo’s Il Pensieroso:

To look at the statue, you would think Lorenzo (1492-1519) was quite a grand fellow. He was, indeed, a member of the illustrious Medici family, and his grandfather was known as Lorenzo the Magnificent.

But young Lorenzo was just a ne’er-do-well who died at age 26, “worn out by disease and excess.”

Still, Lorenzo was a Medici, and the family ruled Italy at the time, and they were patrons of Michelangelo, Botticelli, and other luminaries of the artistic world. Lorenzo was a loser, but to the family, his tomb deserved a proper marble statue.

Michelangelo was given the project, and he portrayed Lorenzo as a mighty warrior in battle gear reflecting on unspecified weighty matters. Europeans were big on pondering in those days.

But back to Rodin and The Thinker. Rodin knew that he had hit the jackpot with The Poet/The Thinker. Over the years, he produced a succession of castings in various sizes, some of bronze and some of painted plaster. He preferred the figure to be oversized and elevated, so the viewer looked up at it.

Also, the name The Thinker soon became so popular that Rodin finally adopted it.

Art experts say The Thinker expresses the mental effort and anguish of creativity. Rodin agreed.

“What makes my Thinker think,” he wrote, “is that he thinks not only with his brain, with his knitted brow, his distended nostrils and compressed lips, but with every muscle of his arms, back, and legs, with his clenched fist and gripping toes.”

I’ll buy that.

Ten versions of The Thinker were cast in Rodin’s lifetime. Today, 28 large bronze castings are located in museums and public places around the world.

The figure below, cast in 1906, is located in front of the Rodin Museum in Paris. The wording Le Penseur on the base is French for “the thinker.”

Now, in order to write this post, I did the usual Googling to get the details right. But I already knew the general story. Specifically, I schooled myself on the subject in 1960 when I graduated from high school, and my uncle Allan sent me a pair of Thinker bookends.

These days, the bookends are in use in a bookcase dedicated to my outdoorsy and travel books.

As you can observe, Allan’s bookends bear only a superficial resemblance to Rodin’s original. The manufacturer got the pose right, more or less, but the style is totally different, and the craftsmanship is… lacking.

Maybe it’s the hair, but the figure looks like John F. Kennedy, if Kennedy had been Asian.

Anyway, it was obvious back in 1960 that the bookends were of the El Cheapo variety. I remember digging up a photo of Rodin’s Thinker and being surprised at how bad the bookends really were.

I also ended up digging a bit into the backstory. I had to go to the library to do it, mind you, since this happened in olden times — Before Google.

In case you are wondering, I did appreciate Allan’s thoughtfulness, and I harbored no ill thoughts regarding the El Cheapo angle. As evidence of that, consider that the bookends have been in use in my home for 60 years and counting.

They do their job, and they make me smile. Thanks, Allan.

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The career of the late singer/songwriter Bill Withers, best known for “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” followed an unusual path. Withers stuttered badly as a child. He joined the Navy at 17 and overcame the stuttering with the help of speech therapy arranged by his commanding officer.

At age 33, Withers left the Navy and released his first album. He went on to win three Grammies, and he was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

But his music career lasted only from 1970 to 1985. By the early 80s, he was butting heads with the bosses at Columbia Records (he called them “blaxperts”), who wanted to alter his style. When Columbia delayed a new Withers album and released one by Mr. T instead, Withers quit.

Ain’t No Sunshine” won a Grammy in 1971 for Best Rhythm and Blues Song.

Ain’t No Sunshine

By Bill Withers, 1971
Written by Bill Withers

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
It’s not warm when she’s away.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And she’s always gone too long,
Anytime she goes away.

Wonder this time where she’s gone.
Wonder if she’s gone to stay.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.

And I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know,
I know, I know — hey —
I oughta leave the young thing alone,
But ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.
Only darkness every day.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And this house just ain’t no home,
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.
Anytime she goes away.

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Summing Up

Below is a series of images summing up the awful mess we are in as a country. The mess is the fault of (1) the despicable Donald Trump, who manages to be criminally negligent, grossly incompetent, and a traitor at the same time, (2) the disgraceful and cowardly elected Republicans who won’t stop him, and (3) the disturbed conservative masses, who, owing to a host of mental and emotional aberrations, cheer him on.

Actually, those characterizations are quite generous — an understatement of the situation. My polite nature prevents me from saying what I really think.

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