"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Giggle du Jour

Courtesy of commenter Jeff25 at Crooks and Liars:


That is such a Groucho comeback.

The Liar-In-Chief Gets Fact-Checked

And doesn't like it at all. A couple of stories here. First, Twitter is fact-checking Trump, from WaPo via Joe.My.God. (WaPo's story is behind a paywall.)

Twitter on Tuesday slapped a fact-check label on President Trump’s tweets for the first time, a response to long-standing criticism that the company is too hands-off when it comes to policing misinformation and falsehoods from world leaders.

The move, which escalates tensions between Washington and Silicon Valley in an election year, was made in response to two Trump tweets over the past 24 hours.

The tweets falsely claimed that mail-in ballots are fraudulent. Twitter’s label says, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and redirects users to news articles about Trump’s unsubstantiated claim.

Better late than never -- Twitter should have been doing this a decade ago.

And do I expect this to make any difference to Trump cultists? No, of course not.

Trump, however, is not happy, and his reaction is way over the top. Again, via Joe (Joe's post is quoting from Axios, but the link goes to Business Insider. I did find the Axios story, though.):

President Trump responded via tweets Tuesday evening to Twitter fact-checking him for the first time on his earlier unsubstantiated posts claiming mail-in ballots in November's election would be fraudulent.

What he's saying: "Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election.They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post," the president tweeted. "Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!"

Like I said, over the top -- fact-checking a habitual liar is now interfering in the election and "stifling" free speech. Like his followers, Trump has no clue as to what the Constitution actually guarantees in regard to freedom of speech -- which is simply that the government can't censor you. And as "conservatives" are so fond of pointing out, private entities are not bound by that.

And of course, the campaign weighs in:

We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters. Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.

He's panicking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Critter Chronicles: Goslings!

Hordes of them, both at North and South Ponds. They're all busily eating and growing -- some, presumably the first hatched -- are getting quite large. Apparently, one mother serves as baby-sitter for a group of little ones while the other mothers get out from under for a while. I've been seeing groups of eighteen or more, of various sizes, under the supervision of one adult, although there may be a second adult standing guard -- presumably a male, since that's what they do. I saw a group of about thirty at North Pond -- I say "about" because they move around and they tend to blend together if they're close to each other.

Strangely enough, I haven't seen any ducklings yet, although there are pairs of mallards all over the place, and even a couple pairs of wood ducks.

And the notorious Lincoln Park squirrels are out in full force.

And down by the wolf habitat at Lincoln Park zoo, the black-crowned night herons are clacking and squawking and generally makes nuisances of themselves.

Today's Must-Read: The Triumph of Ignorance

or, "Gullibility Will Always Win". It seems that Fox News viewers and Trump supporters -- which are largely interchangeable -- will believe just about anything:

A new poll from Yahoo News and YouGov show that 44 percent of Trump-supporting Republicans think Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates is using the coronavirus epidemic as a way to secretly implant microchips into billions of people so he can track their movements.

Additionally, 50 percent of Americans who primarily watch Fox News believe the conspiracy theory even though neither Fox nor Trump have ever repeated it.

It's not a matter of whether or not Fox or Trump has repeated a lie -- it's that his followers and Fox's viewers have been conditioned to believe what they're told by the authority du jour. (And it's relevant that a lot of these people, maybe most, are evangelical "Christians", who are predisposed toward authoritarianism. It would be interesting to see a breakdown on these polls by religious affiliation.)

Putin must be laughing himself silly.

At any rate, read the whole thing -- it's short, and some of the things these people believe will have you shaking your head.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Today's Musdt-Read: Election? What Election?

Via Digby, NYT takes a look at the worst-case scenarios and what people are planning to do about them:

In October, President Trump declares a state of emergency in major cities in battleground states, like Milwaukee and Detroit, banning polling places from opening.

A week before the election, Attorney General William P. Barr announces a criminal investigation into the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

After Mr. Biden wins a narrow Electoral College victory, Mr. Trump refuses to accept the results, won’t leave the White House and declines to allow the Biden transition team customary access to agencies before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Far-fetched conspiracy theories? Not to a group of worst-case scenario planners — mostly Democrats, but some anti-Trump Republicans as well — who have been gaming out various doomsday options for the 2020 presidential election.

I'm very confident that the Republicans -- and not just Trump -- will do whatever is necessary to pull a victory out of the hat -- voter suppression, voter intimidation (I believe it's the RNC that plans on having 50,000 "poll watchers" in place -- carrying their AR-15s?), closing polling places in the "wrong" precincts (which, you'll remember, they did in the last election) -- you name it, they'll try it.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

What's New at Green Man Review

It's that time of the week again, and we've got good stuff:
All things Zelazny, Kasaugai Roasted Nuts, James Gunn’s Inside Science Fiction, early Doc Watson, new Cotton-Eyed Joe, Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, and more

With some surprises. (And that's news exactly how?) At any rate, click on over and enjoy.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Giggle du Jour

With thanks to commenter thatoneguy at Joe.My.God.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Lower Depths: Oh, Yeah, He Loves the Troops

"Contemptible" fits here, I think. From Politico:

More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states test residents for the coronavirus and trace the spread of infections will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits, according to a senior FEMA official.

The official outlined the Trump administration’s plans on an interagency call on May 12, an audio version of which was obtained by POLITICO. The official also acknowledged during the call that the June 24 deadline means that thousands of members who first deployed in late March will find themselves with only 89 days of duty credit, one short of the 90-day threshold for qualifying for early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill.

One. Day. Short.

The looming loss of crucial frontline workers, along with questions about whether the administration is shortchanging first responders, would require a delicate messaging strategy, the official — representing FEMA’s New England region — told dozens of colleagues on the interagency call.

“We would greatly benefit from unified messaging regarding the conclusion of their services prior to hitting the 90-day mark and the retirement benefit implications associated with it,” the official said.

Because it's all about the messaging, which the Republicans have shown themselves to be very good at. It helps that they don't give a shit about these service members -- who have earned the benefits they're being denied,


Read the whole article -- the maneuvering of the Trump regime on this is pretty appalling.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Republicans, In Their Own Words

That's it: they have nothing positive to offer -- is Trump going to run on how much better off we are? -- so all they can do is "damage" their opponents.

Via Joe.My.God., whose post is based on this story from Mediate:

But deep in that report was the revelation that Trump’s attempts at tarring Biden — some of which he’s still using — are not effective, according to his allies’ own data:

Last month, a poll commissioned by the Republican National Committee tested roughly 20 lines of attack against Mr. Biden, ranging from the private business activities of his son, Hunter Biden, to whether Mr. Biden has “lost” a step, a reference to mental acuity. None of the lines of attack significantly moved voter sentiment, according to two people briefed on the results. There were some lines of attack that had potential, one of the people briefed on the results said, but they were more traditional Republican broadsides about issues like taxes.

I remember when the GOP was a legitimate political party -- but that was before Putin took over.

This Week at Green Man Review

Rain or shine, winter or spring, here we are, with all sorts of neat stuff -- and it's not always what you expected:

Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, “Bad Moon Rising” by Credence Clearwater Revival live, Max Barry’s Providence, Irvine’s The Life of Riley, Two Hellboy animated films, Trader Joe’s Organic Dark Chocolate PB&J and Other Tasty Matters

and it's all right here.

Today's Must-Read: Our Last Real President

You may have seen this already, but President Obama spoke to the Class of 2020 last night:

Hi, everybody. Aniyah, thank you for that beautiful introduction. I could not be prouder of everything you’ve done in your time with the Obama Foundation.

And of course, I couldn’t be prouder of all of you in the graduating Class of 2020 — as well as the teachers, and the coaches, and most of all, parents and family who guided have you along the way.

Now graduating is a big achievement under any circumstances. Some of you have had to overcome serious obstacles along the way, whether it was an illness, or a parent losing a job, or living in a neighborhood where people too often count you out. Along with the usual challenges of growing up, all of you have had to deal with the added pressures of social media, reports of school shootings, and the specter of climate change. And then, just as you’re about to celebrate having made it through, just as you’ve been looking forward to proms and senior nights, graduation ceremonies — and, let’s face it, a whole bunch of parties — the world is turned upside down by a global pandemic. And as much as I’m sure you love your parents, I’ll bet that being stuck at home with them and playing board games or watching Tiger King on TV is not exactly how you envisioned the last few months of your senior year.

Now I’ll be honest with you — the disappointments of missing a live graduation — those will pass pretty quick. I don’t remember much from my own high school graduation. I know that not having to sit there and listen to a commencement speaker isn’t all that bad — mine usually go on way too long. Also, not that many people look great in those caps, especially if you have big ears like me. And you’ll have plenty of time to catch up with your friends once the immediate public health crisis is over.

But what remains true is that your graduation marks your passage into adulthood — the time when you begin to take charge of your own life. It’s when you get to decide what’s important to you: the kind of career you want to pursue. Who you want to build a family with. The values you want to live by. And given the current state of the world, that may be kind of scary.

If you’d planned on going away for college, getting dropped off at campus in the fall — that’s no longer a given. If you were planning to work while going to school, finding that first job is going to be tougher. Even families that are relatively well-off are dealing with massive uncertainty. Those who were struggling before — they’re hanging on by a thread.

All of which means that you’re going to have to grow up faster than some generations. This pandemic has shaken up the status quo and laid bare a lot of our country’s deep-seated problems — from massive economic inequality to ongoing racial disparities to a lack of basic health care for people who need it. It’s woken a lot of young people up to the fact that the old ways of doing things just don’t work; that it doesn’t matter how much money you make if everyone around you is hungry and sick; and that our society and our democracy only work when we think not just about ourselves, but about each other.

It’s also pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end. All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out that they don’t have all the answers. A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions. So, if the world’s going to get better, it going to be up to you.

That realization may be kind of intimidating. But I hope it’s also inspiring. With all the challenges this country faces right now, nobody can tell you “no, you’re too young to understand” or “this is how it’s always been done.” Because with so much uncertainty, with everything suddenly up for grabs, this is your generation’s world to shape.

Since I’m one of the old guys, I won’t tell you what to do with this power that rests in your hands. But I’ll leave you with three quick pieces of advice.

First, don’t be afraid. America’s gone through tough times before — slavery, civil war, famine, disease, the Great Depression and 9/11. And each time we came out stronger, usually because a new generation, young people like you, learned from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better.

Second, do what you think is right. Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy — that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way — which is why things are so screwed up.

I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others. You won’t get it right every time, you’ll make mistakes like we all do. But if you listen to the truth that’s inside yourself, even when it’s hard, even when its inconvenient, people will notice. They’ll gravitate towards you. And you’ll be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

And finally, build a community. No one does big things by themselves. Right now, when people are scared, it’s easy to be cynical and say let me just look out for myself, or my family, or people who look or think or pray like me. But if we’re going to get through these difficult times; if we’re going to create a world where everybody has the opportunity to find a job, and afford college; if we’re going to save the environment and defeat future pandemics, then we’re going to have to do it together. So be alive to one another’s struggles. Stand up for one another’s rights. Leave behind all the old ways of thinking that divide us — sexism, racial prejudice, status, greed — and set the world on a different path.

When you need help, Michelle and I have made it the mission of our Foundation to give young people like you the skills and support to lead in your own communities, and to connect you with other young leaders around the country and around the globe.

But the truth is that you don’t need us to tell you what to do.

Because in so many ways, you’ve already started to lead.

Congratulations, Class of 2020. Keep making us proud.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof. Video at the link.