"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

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Giggle du jour

With thanks to commenter Bulldog Cajun at Joe.My.God.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

Our usual mix of the odd, unusual, and very, very interesting:

An Alternate Cairo, Craft Cider, Angela Carter’s Writings, Live Breton Music and Other Autumn Is Coming Matters

Well, Autumn is still a bit away, but there's lots of interesting stuff anyway. Check it out.



Saturday, August 17, 2019

It Can Be Done

But not by this administration. The contrast between Australia and the US is even more stark than you might imagine:

 CreditAsanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times

It’s a magical sight: Just as the light begins to vanish, thousands of tiny penguins waddle out of the surf on an island in southeastern Australia, then head up the beach and along well-worn paths toward their burrows.

The “penguin parade” has been a major attraction since the 1920s, when tourists were led by torchlight to view the nightly arrival of the birds — the world’s smallest penguin breed, with adults averaging 13 inches tall — from a day of fishing and swimming.

For much of that time, the penguins lived among the residents of a housing development, mostly modest vacation homes, in tight proximity to cars and pets, as well as ravenous foxes. The penguins’ numbers fell precipitously. But in 1985, the state government took an extraordinary step: It decided to buy every piece of property on the Summerland Peninsula and return the land to the penguins. The process was completed in 2010.

The Trump regime, of course, goes the opposite route, setting the stage for wiping out our remaining wildlife.

They're Getting Really Brazen

If all else fails, lie about it; better yet, blame it on the opposition:

House Republican leadership has sent a memo to GOP members of Congress directing them to lie about right wing white supremacist gun massacres, and to call it “violence from the left.”

The memo, which The Tampa Bay Times acquired, includes talking points for congressional Republicans to parrot when speaking with reporters or constituents. It instructs them on how to address questions about gun violence, including the domestic terrorism recently perpetrated in El Paso, Texas.

And Fox News will start parroting it in 3 . . . 2 . . .

This is what the Republican party has become. That's why we can't have nice things.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Giggle du Jour

Just because:

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With thanks to commenter Doug105 at Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Animals

And the Trump regime's war on the environment continues:

The Trump administration moved on Monday to weaken how it applies the 45-year-old Endangered Species Act, ordering changes that critics said will speed the loss of animals and plants at a time of record global extinctions .

The action, which expands the administration’s rewrite of U.S. environmental laws, is the latest that targets protections, including for water, air and public lands. Two states — California and Massachusetts, frequent foes of President Donald Trump’s environmental rollbacks — promised lawsuits to try to block the changes in the law. So did some conservation groups.

Given that Trump's administration is filled with two-faced liars, I'm calling bullshit on this:

Pushing back against the criticism, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and other administration officials contend the changes improve efficiency of oversight while continuing to protect rare species.

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal — recovery of our rarest species,” he said in a statement. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Bernhardt is a former oil industry lobbyist.

This just makes me sick at my stomach. Yes, I'm a nature freak, bolstered by the understanding that it's all one system -- it's all interrelated, and if you screw up one part, you damage the whole thing. And this is the only planet we have.

I wonder when the Trump boys are going to go on their first wolf hunt.

Read the whole article -- it's pretty awful.

Via Joe.My.God.

A Good Question

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Do I really need to add anything?

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

Monday, August 12, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

Yeah, I know, a day late -- suddenly yesterday morning my computer went wonky, including wiping my music from Windows Media Player. (Fortunately, the files weren't deleted as well, and it seems to be reconstituting itself. Let's hear it for Windows updates!)

Nevertheless, Green Man Review published as usual:

Scottish Sort of Trad Music, A Fiendish Bean Dip, Africa, The Muppets and other Summer Things

So head on over, if you haven't already, and enjoy.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Oops!

This one's gone viral, but I have to post it here.

A crowd at Modesto’s City Council erupted into laughter when Don Grundmann, the co-organizer of a Straight Pride event planned for that California city in late August, slipped while arguing to the assembled chamber and councilmen.

“We’re a totally peaceful racist group,” proclaimed Grundmann, defending his cause and inspiring a facepalm from one councilwoman and gales of laughter and cheers from the crowd.


And the crowd went wild.


Mayor Pete

Strangely enough, this is the first time I've seen Pete Buttigieg in action -- chalk it up to my habit of skipping over videos that people post in comment threads. However, this one I did watch, and I think it's worth sharing:


He's not at all what I expected. I mean, I knew he was intelligent, thoughtful, and (usually) right on the mark. I didn't expect him to be so forceful -- and he's not pulling any punches.

I especially like the way he's taking back "values" from the fascists -- oops, I meant the Republican/evangelical con men.

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

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Today in Disgusting People

Everyone involved in this:

Following a massive undocumented immigration enforcement operation that resulted in more than 650 arrests, many children of those taken into custody are now left homeless with nowhere to go.

Community leaders in Forest, Mississippi came together Wednesday night to put them up in a community gym. 12 News reporter Alex Love was granted permission to talk to community leaders and the children.

These children — some as young as toddlers — were relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up outside their homes after school and drive them to a community center where people tried to keep them calm. But many kids could not stop crying for mom and dad.


Good for the community. And please, can we hear from some "Christians" about their "family values"?

This via Towleroad.

And please note this, from commenter greenmanTN at Joe.My.God.:

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Humanity

This speaks for itself:



Can you think of a Republican who would do this? I can't.

Thanks to commenter Dazzer at Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Today's Must-Read(s)

Hullabaloo is the place to be this morning -- there's a whole series of posts that demand attention. Start with this one by Tom Sullivan on our history of racism, which Trump has made allowable:

Donald Trump did not say he personally condemned those sentiments and racist ideology, only that "the nation" should. He blamed the Internet and video games for the body count rather than the racism, bigotry, and white supremacy he cited moments earlier (and that the alleged El Paso shooter cited for his actions). Trump blamed mental illness for the slaughter and would not address the ready availability of weapons in the U.S. and its gun culture. As if to punctuate his own disconnect from victims, Trump managed in the end to misidentify the affected Ohio city as Toledo.

Then scroll down to this one by Digby; the bulk of it is a column by Ben Shapiro from 2010; the title should give you a hint of the thrust: "Obama's Race War":

That's just an excuse. The Obama administration is racist. They are using that racism to let black criminals off the hook, justify illegal immigration, hamstring law enforcement across the country, and push redistribution as a solution to supposed continuing discrimination against "people of color." The predictable result of this policy will resemble the results of the 1876 election: federal abdication on racial violence, state abdication on racial violence and local abdication on racial violence. The next race war will come not from racist whites, but from racist blacks and Hispanics who feel empowered to act on their racism by an administration that excuses all minority misbehavior.

Shapiro isn't much for predicting the future.

And, something positive -- Digby's post on Beto O'Rourke's comments on Trump's racism, and Trump's racism itself. Here's a sample:



And yes, this has everything to do with the rash of mass shootings this week. (One of this first things I saw this morning was that there was another one last night. Four dead, I believe.)


Sunday, August 04, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

Yep, it's Sunday again, and that means:

Alternative Egypts, American Indian Literature, The Final BronyCon, Irish trad music, Alan Moore’s Mind, Hunter’s smoky egg dip and Other Matters

Don't forget the other matters -- some juicy stuff included in that. So click on over and enjoy.

(Oh, by the way -- that's a different Hunter.)

Image du Jour

All you need to know about Mitch McConnell:

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


Thursday, August 01, 2019

Coneflowers

I remember reading not all that long ago that purple coneflowers were an endangered species. Now, they've become a common garden plant, at least in Chicago.

I have to confess that I always wondered why they were called "coneflowers". I guess I must have been observing them too early in the blooming cycle, when the central portion -- the part that has the actual flowers -- was flat. I've been noticing lately that as the season progresses, that center does become more and more cone-shaped.

And it happens that the scientific name is Echinacea purpurea. For those with any acquaintance at all with herbal medicine, you know that Echinacea is recommended as an aid to the immune system. The American Indians used it for all sorts of ailments, including wounds, burns, snake bites, throat infections, what have you.

And best of all, the flowers are really attractive.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Today in Disgusting People

So there's this person who goes from state to state helping Republican governors slash their budgets:

A few days after a powerful earthquake hit the state last November, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) issued an order increasing the power of the state’s budget office, led at the time by a woman who had lived in Alaska a mere two weeks.

In her newly empowered role, Donna Arduin — an infamous budget-slashing expert — and Dunleavy went on cut to hundreds of millions from the state budget. They aim to trim even more in her second year in the remote state.

It’s hardly Arduin’s first rodeo. The budget consultant has served in several Republican-led governor’s offices, slashing state expenses while cutting or resisting efforts to increase tax revenue.

She's hardly worried about the effect on the people who actually live there:

The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, at a meeting in which they declared financial exigency last week, sounded less enthusiastic. The institution has been “crippled,” its president said, by the governor cutting roughly 40% of the school’s state funding — over $130 million. Thousands of students across the state found their state-funded scholarships suddenly defunded with the school year looming. “We will not have a university after February if we don’t make a move,” one regent noted.

Another Alaskan who had scheduled a dentures appointment four weeks after having his teeth extracted was left with gums flapping in the wind, after the governor eliminated Medicaid dental coverage for adults. That saved the state $27 million.

And she's crippled social services in other states:

In the process of cutting $8.1 billion over five years in Florida, the Los Angeles Times later reported, “Florida eliminated money for eyeglasses, hearing aids and dentures for poor seniors and forced 55,000 low-income children onto health insurance waiting lists.”

At a time when there is broad support for universal health coverage, assholes like Arduin are cutting funding. Her rationale?

“I joined government to shrink it,” she said.

Spoken like a true libertarian, which is possibly the most morally bankrupt philosophy that I've ever run across.

Of course, she doesn't have to bear the consequences.

Via Bark Bark Woof Woof.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

The usual mix, and a couple of surprises:

Lord Dunsany, The Mother Tongue, Chocolate Cake, Anime, Cajun Music, and more

Did I mention that there's more? Check it out.

Tweet du Jour

Campbell's strikes back:


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

Sadly, the "Customer Service" response was a fake, according to Snopes. Unfortunately, Snopes's response is on Facebook, which I refuse to participate in, so do follow the link to see the commercial (which, incidentally, is several years old).

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Saturday Science: Darwin Who?

A new poll from Gallup that has some sobering implications:

Forty percent of U.S. adults ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years. However, more Americans continue to think that humans evolved over millions of years -- either with God's guidance (33%) or, increasingly, without God's involvement at all (22%).


The latest findings, from a June 3-16 Gallup poll, have not changed significantly from the last reading in 2017. However, the 22% of Americans today who do not believe God had any role in human evolution marks a record high dating back to 1982. This figure has changed more than the other two have over the years and coincides with an increasing number of Americans saying they have no religious identification.

My first reaction is to think that this is a result of the "dumbing of America" due to the right's attacks on public education, but if you look at the timeline, the only significant change is the increase in those who believe that man evolved without divine interference.

And of course, it's tied to religious belief and education:

As has been the case historically, Americans' views on evolution and creationism vary sharply based on their religious identification, how often they attend church and their education level.

Majorities of Protestants (56%) and those who attend church at least once a week (68%) believe that God created humans in their present form. Meanwhile, 59% of those who do not identify with any religion believe in evolution without any intervention from God.

Those with a college degree are much more likely to believe in evolution than creationism, while the opposite is true of those without a college degree. However, even among adults with a college degree, more believe God had a role in evolution than say it occurred without God.

Unfortunately, the report doesn't include any information on methodology -- where and how the survey was taken, the actual questions asked (particularly a more precise identification of religious affiliation: were there any responses from non-Christians? I.e., Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. Apparently, Gallup believes there is only one religion in this country.)

I will note, however, that according this survey, the more Christian you are, the less likely you are to live in the real world.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Today's Must-Read: What Independent Press?

This morning's "Must-Read" is a comment thread (for which, unfortunately, Disqus won't give me a link, so you get the whole thing here), courtesy of commenter billbear1961:

From Political Wire:

disqus_lWwzrwNaw6 17 hours ago

Margaret Brennan on CBS pulled off the same little trick George did at ABC: in her interview with Liz Cheney, she struggled to get Cheney to say something critical about Donald's timing, or to acknowledge that "some might say" there's something an eency weency bit racist about how "some interpret" Donald's tweets, while allowing Cheney to get away unchallenged with vile, incendiary lies about what the four Democratic representatives actually said.

No challenge at all from Brennan on that ground. None.

Disgraceful: but over the last quarter century or so, this kind of journalism is how the Republican Party has taken total power.

I was horrified, although not even remotely surprised, by the extent to which George Stephanopoulos let the odious Mercedes Schlapp get away with suggesting that a) the old orange goon had denounced the chant but b) the representatives had indeed said terrible, anti-Semitic, anti-American things.

George challenged Mercedes a little bit on the idea that Donald had immediately denounced the chant, although that line of questioning got muddy as Schlapp pulled the usual Frank Luntzed agitprop routine, but he let stand without challenge the outrageous, incendiary, and deeply false suggestion that any of the four had said anything remotely anti-Semitic, inflammatory, or anti-American.

He let it stand, as one knew he would---most of the press establishment has decided the hair to split involves Fat Donald's reaction time, and whether Fat Donald really means it, and not the toxic, dangerous content of the allegations the Republican Party is making against these women, which may yet lead to bloodshed and death. It would be so impolite to force the Republicans to deal with that one.

This is not only open racism and fascism, but it's based on easily disprovable right wing agitprop, Frank Luntz mantras, and Murdoch Big Lies.

Yet the national press still equivocates about calling Donald a racist ("some say," "critics charge"), and still will not explode the lies about what the four members of Congress actually said.

The press is allowing the Republicans' Big Lie campaign to stand unchallenged.

The real disgrace is that the press is refusing to correct the record: refusing to point out, again and again, as often as it takes, that the Congresswomen didn't say any of the things the Republicans claim they said. This filthy Republican lie is hardening into fact because the press doesn't want to "take sides" and correct the record.

billbear1961

And this is ME speaking--just as the corporate-FASCIST press have, in effect, abandoned the children in the concentration camps, they are helping Trump and the GOP endanger the lives of the "Squad" be refusing to call them out for the LIES they are spreading about what these women have said.

And that pretty much echoes my thoughts on how the press is a failure.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

It's a really mixed bag this week -- even more so than usual;

Welsh Mythology in Fiction, Gazpacho, Bounty Hunters in Outer Space, a New take On Spider-Man, Lots of English Music, and more,

And it's waiting for you right here.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Giggle du Jour: A Look Back

Teenagers trying to figure out a rotary phone:

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

About Those Racist Tweets

There's a series of posts at Hullabaloo that pretty much nail all the ramifications. Start at this post by Tom Sullivan and just work your way down.

Culture Break: Aziz Herawi

I don't know the name of this piece, or even if it has a name. I have one of Herawi's albums, which I enjoy thoroughly:


From Wikipedia:

Aziz Herawi (born c.1952 in Herat, Afghanistan) is a noted musician from Afghanistan. He specializes in the dutar and rubab, both plucked string instruments. Afghan musician Aziz Herawi was seven years of age the first time he heard the strings of the dutar being plucked. He talked one of the family servants, who hid it in a blanket, into buying the instrument for him from a shepherd. The boy would wait until his father was asleep, then sneak into the woods surrounding their home. Alone, in the dark, he practiced, teaching himself to play the long-necked 12-stringed dutar.

Herawi is now 57 and a resident of Sacramento, California. He has lived in northern California since 1985 and released several albums. His music is a blend of Persian and Hindustani instruments and styles and considered to be typical of Herat, Herawi's hometown, near the northeastern border with Iran.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Rain

I just checked, and we've indeed had higher than normal rainfall this spring -- 6 inches above average, over 18 inches total.

To bring it into perspective, I was riding the bus up Lake Shore Drive this afternoon and notice that:

The lakefront just north of where the bus leaves Michigan Avenue and enters the Drive is paved and slopes down to the water, which is normally, say, eight to twelve inches below the paving. About a foot at the edge of the paving is under water.

The two most northerly sections of Fullerton Beach are completely submerged.

The doggie beach in Belmont Harbor, which normally extends about fifteen or twenty feet into the water, is almost complete gone.

It's obviously a Chinese hoax.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

From the Wingnut Wurlitzer, Or 1984 Redux

Up is down, black is white:

As thousands of immigrants face getting caught up in ICE raids this weekend, Fox News hosts are shilling for these Gestapo-like raids by trying to criminalize those advising immigrants of their Constitutional rights.

Fox & Friends seems to have taken the lead this morning in smearing those who want to abide by our Constitution - while posing as patriots. Cohost Griff Jenkins, once again moonlighting from his day job as a supposedly objective reporter, said, “the Democrats are putting themselves in a unique position of running against the rule of law.”

Actually, it’s Fox News running against the rule of law since Democrats have merely been publicizing rights under the U.S. Constitution. Despite all the insinuation, I have yet to see a Fox host actually dispute the rights' existence.

Not surprisingly, immigrant-hating Katie Pavlich took the dishonest insinuation a step further on Outnumbered today. She accused Democrats of “advocating for [immigrants] to continue breaking the law by not answering the door when ICE agents show up.”

In fact, disallowing an ICE agent to enter without a judicial warrant is abiding by the law. But Trump lickspittle and cohost Harris Faulkner endorsed the falsehood. “It’s what Katie said,” Faulkner said. “They’re here illegally,” as if she’s too ignorant to know that even the worst criminals have rights under our Constitution.

And a footnote to that last statement by Faulkner: Under U.S. law, an immigrant on U.S. soil has the right to apply for asylum, no matter how they got here. The Trump regime is violating the law by deporting them without due process.

And of course the trumpanzees will swallow this bullshit whole.

This Week at Green Man Review

It's that time of the week again, and it's a really interesting mix this week:

Writings Based on Music, A New Mythology, Japanese Photography, Cider, Supervillains, Nordic Music from the Midwest, Aaron Copland, and other goodies

So scoot over and enjoy.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Antidote: Welcome Home!

From the description: "Watch these dogs welcome home their soldier moms and dads!"


Sunday, July 07, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

Happens every Sunday. And this week we've got:

A Magical Family, Historical SF, Chocolate, The Cat In the Hat, Music, Traditional and Not, and other neat stuff

And here it is.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Saturday Science: Wandering

Although it sounds like this little critter had a destination in mind:

A young Arctic fox has walked across the ice from Norway's Svalbard islands to northern Canada in an epic journey, covering 3,506 km (2,176 miles) in 76 days.

"The fox's journey has left scientists speechless," according to Greenland's Sermitsiaq newspaper.

Researchers at Norway's Polar Institute fitted the young female with a GPS tracking device and freed her into the wild in late March last year on the east coast of Spitsbergen, the Svalbard archipelago's main island.

The fox was under a year old when she set off west in search of food, reaching Greenland just 21 days later - a journey of 1,512 km - before trudging forward on the second leg of her trek.

She was tracked to Canada's Ellesmere Island, nearly 2,000 km further, just 76 days after leaving Svalbard.

Could you walk over 2,000 miles in just over two months?

UNIVERSAL IMAGES GROUP/GETTY IMAGES

Friday, July 05, 2019

Climate Change: A Possible (Partial) Solution

Someone has finally done a study on the carbon-storing capacity of forests:

Good news: we can help halt climate change through a massive campaign of reforestation, according to a new study published Thursday.

Bad news: it would require covering an area the size of the United States in new trees, and even then some scientists are skeptical about the paper’s conclusions.

Of course, scientists being only human, there's some controversy:

Some experts who were not involved with the study, however, expressed skepticism about some of its findings.

“Restoration of trees may be ‘among the most effective strategies,’ but it is very far indeed from ‘the best climate change solution available,’ and a long way behind reducing fossil fuel emissions to net zero,” said Myles Allen, a geosystem science professor at Oxford.

“Yes, heroic reforestation can help, but it is time to stop suggesting there is a ‘nature-based solution’ to ongoing fossil fuel use. There isn’t. Sorry,” he added.

Here's the comment I left at the site:

This is one area where I have to take both sides. Yes, reforestation is necessary and would be more than a little helpful, but it's not the solution. We really do need to cut fossil fuel use drastically. (It wouldn't hurt to start pushing birth control; there are way too many people on this planet.)

Side note: This article reveals the "either/or" thinking that seems to plague us and is most glaring when considering "opposing" scientific theories. I've run across several instances of scientific controversy over opposing theories, and in most cases, they aren't mutually exclusive. (Most notably, how did organic molecules appear on earth, created in deep-sea vents or on meteorites? And how did people come to the Americas, via land bridge or by boat following the coasts? My answer to both questions is "Yes.")

Side note 2: In the first decade of this century, the City of Chicago planted over half a million trees, ostensibly as part of a "beautification" program. I've noticed that we are now able to plant types of trees along the streets (oak, basswood, even bald cypress) that we couldn't plant before. Our air is that much cleaner. (Not to discount tighter standards on automobile emissions, but don't tell me the tree-planting didn't play a part.)

Today's Must-Read: It's the Press, Stupid!

Rebecca Traister takes a hard look at the man -- and they are almost all me -- who will be framing the optics of the 2020 election, and it ain't pretty:

In past weeks, the curtain has officially been raised on the vast and diverse field of candidates for the Democratic nomination, many of them politicians who would not have been seen on a presidential debate stage — and never in these numbers — even a decade ago. Six of the 25 declared candidates are not men; six of them are not white; there is one openly gay man and one Jew who’s also a democratic socialist. During the first round of debates, several candidates made efforts to speak Spanish that, while performative, reflected an overdue acknowledgment that they were speaking to a broader swath of the country than the moderate white men in diners to whom so much Democratic messaging has been directed for decades. Beyond their representational expansion, many of the candidates are offering up compelling, progressive policy ideas: pushing the party into fights for single-payer health care, subsidized child care, free college, a Green New Deal, a stronger commitment to reproductive justice and a push for more humane immigration policies.

But we’re also getting our first real taste of the punditry that will frame this next year and a half, and so far, it is the opposite of fresh, diverse, or forward-thinking. Rather, the analysis coughed up by some of the nation’s loudest and most prominent talking heads sounds familiar and stale. The dispiriting truth is that many of those tasked with interpreting our politics are — in addition to being extremely freaked out by the race they’re covering — totally ill-equipped for the historic task ahead of them.

She names names. Read it all.

With thanks to commenter Gustav2 at Joe.My.God.


Thursday, July 04, 2019

Another Day, Another Flash Mob

It's that kind of morning.


I'm not sure the dancers were a good idea, but the finale is spectacular.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Antidote

Wouldn't you just love to have a nice kitty around?



Via Balloon Juice.

Stonewall: The Real Story

A very interesting video by a number of historians, some of whom were actually at Stonewall, that serves to debunk a lot of the myths and attempts at appropriation:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

Yes, it's that time of the week again, and this week also happens to be the Pride Parade in Chicago. Needless to say, traffic on the North Side was beyond hopeless.

At any rate, there's some really nice stuff at GMR this week:

Composer and Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, A Bonnie Bunch of Steeleye Span, Another Spider-Man Film, Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven bar, Online Crafters Ban Trump as a Conversation Subject, A Lúnasa Recording, A Yolen Fantasy and Other Delights

And it's all right here.

Today's Must-Read: Where It All Really Started

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, and a lot of people think that was the beginning of the gay rights movement. It wasn't:

On July 4, 1965 — four years before Stonewall—39 activists from D.C., New York, and Philadelphia marched on the place where the Declaration of Independence had been signed roughly two centuries earlier. They wanted to remind the nation that their rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” had been denied. Dressed in formal attire — the men in coats and ties, and many of the women in skirts and dresses — they carried signs that read equal treatment before the law and homosexual bill of rights.

For the next four years, the organizer of that protest, Craig Rodwell, along with his comrades, Barbara Gittings and Kay Tobin Lahusen, marched in Philadelphia. Their demonstrations became became known as “the Annual Reminders.” But in the summer of 1967, Rodwell also decided to do something that was, in its own quiet way, more radical than marching. He wanted to open a bookstore.

It's a fascinating article, but I want to point out one thing: the gay rights movement actually started in the 1950s, with the founding of the Mattachine Society by Harry Hay, but it wasn't what you'd call "activist". Rodwell might well be the first to openly demonstrate against the prevailing repression of gays; Stonewall was a catalyst that pushed awareness of the state of affairs and gave us a rallying cry.

Read it.

Via BarkBarkWoofWoof.

Coda:


Saturday, June 29, 2019

Today in Disgusting People

For reasons beyond my understanding, this person styles himself "Christian". Via Joe.My.God.:

This is demonic. This is the spirit of Antichrist. Whether people want to admit it or not, it’s the spirit of lawlessness. I may be a little hardcore about this, but I’m getting sort of sick and tired of the media, and I’m getting sick and tired of these left-wing politicians blaming President Trump for the horrendous conditions at these detention centers. I’ve got news for you, my friend: if they don’t want bad conditions at a detention center, don’t come across our border illegally.

“You’ve got the greatest center in the world at your home. If you’re complaining about not getting toothpaste and soap at a detention center, I’ve got a remedy for that: Go home! Go home and find your toothpaste and soap at your house. We’re not obligated. I just don’t feel like God has put it on America’s tab to pander to the lawless. God doesn’t pander to the lawless.” – Christian activist Chris McDonald.

I think the only appropriate response is this, from Matthew 25:

41 Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

45 “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Here's the video, if you can stand it:




Friday, June 28, 2019

Today's Must-Read: Beyond Sickening

Children are still being brutalized by our government, and the Democrats in Congress have just handed Trump 4 or 5 billion dollars with no strings attached to continue. If you really want to get angry, read this post by Adam Silverman at Balloon Juice:

We will be paying the price for this maliciously, amoral, immoral, evil stupidity for years and years to come. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, and the children themselves will seek vengeance for what we’re doing to them. And when they do, we’ll act surprised and plead that we’re the innocent victims of unhinged fanatics that hate us for our way of life. We’ll use their attempts to seek vengeance to justify more perpetual and forever war. And to whittle away whatever is left of our constitutional rights and liberties.

What follows is a series of quotes from the detained children, some as young as five years old, detailing the conditions under which they're being held.

Read it, then call your congressman and demand to know why he/she isn't making major noise about this.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

This could only happen in Alabama. (Or Mississippi, or Kansas, or Georgia, or South Carolina, or. . . .):

A woman whose unborn baby was killed in a 2018 Pleasant Grove shooting has now been indicted in the death.

Marshae Jones, a 27-year-old Birmingham woman, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury on a manslaughter charge. She was taken into custody on Wednesday.

Though Jones didn’t fire the shots that killed her unborn baby girl, authorities say she initiated the dispute that led to the gunfire. Police initially charged 23-year-old Ebony Jemison with manslaughter, but the charge against Jemison was dismissed after the grand jury failed to indict her.

Yeah, this really happened. (And of course, she's black.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Today's Must-Read: The Lower Depths, Part ? (Update)

Trump's mean, vindictive policy of separating families and putting the children in concentration camps continues, and the more reports I read, the worse it sounds. This one, from CNN via Digby, is more than horrifying:

A 14-year old told us she was taking care of a 4-year old who had been placed in her cell with no relatives. "I take her to the bathroom, give her my extra food if she is hungry, and tell people to leave her alone if they are bothering her," she said.

She was just one of the children we talked with last week as part of a team of lawyers and doctorsmonitoring conditions for children in US border facilities. We have been speaking out urgently, since then, about the devastating and abusive circumstances we've found. The Trump administration claims it needs even more detention facilities to address the issue, but policy makers and the public should not be fooled into believing this is the answer.

The situation we found is unacceptable. US Border Patrol is holding many children, including some who are much too young to take care of themselves, in jail-like border facilities for weeks at a time without contact with family members, regular access to showers, clean clothes, toothbrushes, or proper beds. Many are sick. Many, including children as young as 2 or 3, have been separated from adult caretakers without any provisions for their care besides the unrelated older children also being held in detention.

We spoke with an 11-year-old caring for his toddler brother. Both were fending for themselves in a cell with dozens of other children. The little one was quiet with matted hair, a hacking cough, muddy pants and eyes that fluttered closed with fatigue. As we interviewed the two brothers, he fell asleep on two office chairs drawn together, probably the most comfortable bed he had used in weeks. They had been separated from an 18-year-old uncle and sent to the Clint Border Patrol Station. When we met them, they had been there three weeks and counting.

Read it, if you can stand it.

Update: And if people try to help, Border Patrol ignores them.

Monday, June 24, 2019

More on Mayor Pete

This was farther down in the same comment thread cited in the last post, and again shows what the media is not telling us and, even more so, what the "activists" being featured are ignoring:



It's worth following that whole thread to see how much support Buttigieg actually has in South Bend.

It's worth noting that, in addition to the media focusing on click-bait stories, the professionally offended are generating their own slant on events by the simple expedient of ignoring facts that don't fit their agenda. (Sound familiar?)

When News Becomes a Profit Center

Our national media has been on a downhill slide for some years now -- actually, ever since the advent of Rupert Murdoch, which in this country means Fox News. It's not just that Fox deals in propaganda -- it's much more the idea that, rather than a public service (which has become a quaint idea, at best), news should be a profit center. Those two elements together -- profit and propaganda-- have made a sad joke of the Founders' idea of an informed populace.

This comes to mind after seeing these tweets in a comment thread at Joe.My.God., courtesy of commenter Lazycrocket:



I'm sure you've seen and/or read the story about Mayor Pete being shouted down by some of his black constituents in the wake of the shooting of a black man by a police officer. The stories I saw focused on the outrage in the community and slanted the narrative to make it look as though Buttigieg didn't have much support at home, much less nationally.

That doesn't seem to be the case.

The point of this is that we don't know what's being left out of the reports, and we can no longer trust reporters, or at least a substantial number of them, to be honest. Even less so, commentators.

So much for a free and independent press -- the major outlets have become departments in major corporations, and the goal there is not honest reporting but profits, with the results that we see everyday on the news.



Antidote, Pride Edition

This story has, as they say, gone viral.



I don't think I need to add anything.


Sunday, June 23, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

And it's our usual eclectic assembly:

The Very First Spider-Man Film, Four Fantasies, Bees, Mouse Guard short stories, A Spanish Christmas sweet fit for year round, Dr. John Live and Some Other Matters

And it's all there just waiting for you.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Todays Must-Read: The Lower Depths, Part II

As a follow-up to this post, read this post by Tom Sullivan at Hullabaloo on conditions in the concentration camps.

Eyes otherwise fixed on the Strait of Hormuz Friday night caught this dispatch from a western hemisphere heart of darkness:

Children as young as 7 and 8, many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met. Toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants. Teenage mothers are wearing clothes stained with breast milk.

Conditions at Customs and Border Protection's dangerously overcrowded "camps" (we'll get to that) on the southern border with Mexico continue to deteriorate. Over "45,000 people from 52 countries," refugees, have arrived over the last three weeks, the New York Times reports. Conditions are, to use a loaded word, deplorable. Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Friday condemned national leaders in Washington for their inaction, “Congress is a group of reprobates for not addressing the crisis on our border.”

It's beyond appalling. It's gone past the point where I'm ashamed to admit I'm American.

Read it.

T

Better Late?

Well, it took a while, the the American Psychoanalytic Association has finally 'fessed up:

The American Psychoanalytic Association apologized on Friday for previously labeling homosexuality a mental illness.

“It is long past time to recognize and apologize for our role in the discrimination and trauma caused by our profession,” Lee Jaffe, the group’s president, said in a statement. “We all know that hearing the words ‘we are sorry’ is important to healing past trauma.”



I'm not going to go all professionally offended on this and bitch about "empty gestures," first because it's not empty -- for an organization like the APA to admit it screwed up is significant -- but also because apologies do help.

What annoys me most about that whole period in the annals of psychology (and make no mistake -- the American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association -- the APAs -- were right on board with the "mental illness" thing) is that Evelyn Hooker had been doing studies in the 1950s that clearly showed that gay men who were not in therapy were as well-adjusted as anyone else. There was, however, a contingent of psychiatrists and clinical psychologists, most notably Charles Socarides, whose livelihood depended on the "mental illness" diagnosis. (Ironically, Socarides' son is gay.) It took overt political action by gay psychologists and activists to get the associations to even think about it.

But at least they're admitting they were wrong.

Via Joe.My.God.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Today's Must-Read: The Lower Depths

That's the moral ground the U.S. government is occupying right now. This story beggars belief:

The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

All three judges appeared incredulous during the hearing in San Francisco, in which the Trump administration challenged previous legal findings that it is violating a landmark class action settlement by mistreating undocumented immigrant children at U.S. detention facilities.

“You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?'” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian Tuesday.

U.S. Circuit Judge William Fletcher also questioned the government’s interpretation of the settlement agreement.

“Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you to do anything other than what I just described: cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete and you’ve got an aluminum foil blanket?” Fletcher asked Fabian. “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that that is safe and sanitary.”

This is the kind of reasoning you get from Trump's Justice Department:

On Tuesday, Fabian asked the Ninth Circuit to reverse Gee’s findings because they added new requirements – such as giving detainees soap and toothbrushes – that were not specifically included in Flores.

“One has to assume it was left that way and not enumerated by the parties because either the parties couldn’t reach agreement on how to enumerate that or it was left to the agencies to determine,” Fabian said.

“Or it was relatively obvious,” Fletcher shot back. “And at least obvious enough so that if you’re putting people into a crowded room to sleep on a concrete floor with an aluminum-foil blanket on top of them that it doesn’t comply with the agreement.”

I'm really starting to think about emigrating. Someplace rational.


Random Observations: Pride Month in Chicago

It may seem odd to some that Chicago is very gay friendly, given the history, but that's past. As for the present:

Riding the bus down on Clark or Broadway, when you get to the historic Boys' Town (East Lakeview), there are rainbow banners and flags on the light post, which actually extend north of that on Broadway into Uptown, with rainbow banners that read "Uptown Proud". On Halsted, at least at the north end, trans banners alternative with the rainbows.

Even the CTA has joined in -- there are rainbow el trains and, I believe, buses (although I haven't seen one of the latter).

There are also rainbows in various guises in shop windows -- including J. C. Licht, a paint and supply store.

And there are occasional rainbows in shop windows down into Lincoln Park.

Strangely enough, there is no official notice of Pride in Andersonville, the other gay neighborhood, although some of the businesses are flying the rainbow.

And the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium are flying rainbow flags; the member sticker at the Field, rather than the usual blue, have a rainbow ground.

And of course, there will be the Parade, which in recent years has started in Uptown; rather than beginning at Halsted and Belmont, it now kicks off at Montrose and Broadway, which is quite a bit farther north. (We're everywhere.)

And that's the visible signs of Pride Month in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Club the Democrats Won't Use

Interesting post by Digby on why, even if the House passes articles of impeachment, Trump won't come to trial:
GOP senators say that if the House passes articles of impeachment against President Trump they will quickly quash them in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has broad authority to set the parameters of a trial.

While McConnell is required to act on articles of impeachment, which require 67 votes — or a two-thirds majority — to convict the president, he and his Republican colleagues have the power to set the rules and ensure the briefest of trials.

“I think it would be disposed of very quickly,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

“If it’s based on the Mueller report, or anything like that, it would be quickly disposed of,” he added.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell’s leadership team, said “nothing” would come of impeachment articles passed by the House.

Given the Senate GOP firewall, Cornyn, who’s also a member of the Judiciary Committee, said he doubts that Democrats will commence the impeachment process.

“It would be defeated. That’s why all they want to do is talk about it,” he said. “They know what the outcome would be.”

(Note: She seems to be quoting from another source, but there's no link.)

Yes, we all knew that. What Digby notes as significant is this:

There was a time when Senators would say something like, "nothing I've heard so far adds up to an impeachable offense as far as I'm concerned, but of course, I will look at all the evidence before I render a judgment" (because I at least pay lip service to our constitution and legal system to show I'm not a total hack.) They don't bother with such niceties anymore --- the old "hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue" thing is dead and buried. It's pure partisan power playing now accompanied by WWE style trash talk.

What strikes me is that this is the opening Democrats need to really hammer the Republicans in the next election: indict not only Trump but the whole Republican party as anti-American and determined to establish a dictatorship.

The Democrats won't pick up on it, of course.

Sigh.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Yesterday Was Moving Day

But Green Man Review published anyway:

Folkmanis’ Rat in a Tin Can, Patricia A. McKillip’s Solstice Wood, Sam Adams Seasonal Ale, A Dance & Concert by Blato Zlato, A Futuristic Riff off Holmes, Clash’s ‘London Calling’ and Other Neat Matters

So there you have it. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

I'm a bit under the weather, so this is going to be brief:

A Whiskey Review Site, The Birth of British Folk Rock, Charles de Lint digital editions, Grateful Dead live music, A Great Supernatural Novel From Robert McCammon, Rocket Raccoon & Groot and Other Rather Charming Things

Go to it.

Friday, June 07, 2019

The Day After D-Day: Remembering the Forgotten

This is something I didn't know, part of this post from Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice:

There used to be a prevailing myth that no black men participated in D-Day — by far one of the most important days of World War II.

But a closer look reveals that some African-American soldiers played a key role on Omaha Beach, and their stories still remain largely untold.

"There were no (Congressional) Medals (of Honor) given to any black soldiers for what they did at D-Day," said 90-year-old Joann Snowden Woodson. "People really need to know the truth.”

Woodson has been on a consistent mission to share the truth of D-Day with the world, as well as the service of her late husband, Waverly Bernard Woodson — one of the few black soldiers known to have served on Omaha Beach that fateful day.

Originally from West Philadelphia, Waverly Woodson was a member of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, an all-black Army unit that specialized in placing barrage balloons in battle areas during World War II. Their goal was to distract and destroy enemy aircraft and provide cover for Allied soldiers on the ground.

Waverly Woodson and his Battalion left England on June 5, 1944. They arrived on the beach in Normandy via transport boat the next day.

"He said he could see the soldiers being picked off just like flies," Joann Woodson reiterated. "Some of them were dead; some of them he had to administer the last rites. And some of them — I think he said he had to do amputations and everything."

Read the whole thing. And read Silverman's complete post as well. It's sobering when we think we've made progress in exercising our humanity.

(My dad served in the Pacific. He never talked about the war.)


Sunday, June 02, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

Yep, it's Sunday, and that means new goodies at GMR:

Killer Robots, Dirty Rice, Gifted Children, Aaron Copland and other neat stuff

And it's all just waiting for you.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Antidote

There's a new litter of red wolf pups at Lincoln Park Zoo:

The arrival of spring also brings a litter of four critically endangered red wolf pups at Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo.

The pups, two male and two female, were born on April 13. The dam, Becca, and sire, Rhett, were recommended to breed as part of the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a cooperative effort among Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions to save species. This is the first litter for the zoo since 2010. . . .

Since 2005, Lincoln Park Zoo has been involved in the Red Wolf Recovery Program to try and assist the wild population with cross-fostering of zoo-born pups into wild family groups and other reintroduction efforts. Since that time, Lincoln Park Zoo scientists also conducted a Population Viability Analysis (PVA), a computer model which helped to evaluate different management scenarios for the zoo and wild populations and scientific advice to the Recovery Program. The future status of the North Carolina wild population is uncertain, but the Red Wolf SSP and Lincoln Park Zoo will continue to work toward long-term recovery efforts.


The picture's a little out of date -- they're out and about, exploring their home. I saw them yesterday. One of them got a little adventurous and went off on his own, but the rest were sticking close to mom.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Signs of the Times

Riding down Clark Street on the bus, I passed a new restaurant featuring Vietnamese and Yugoslav cuisine.

You can find anything in Chicago.

Monday, May 27, 2019

It's About Time

I may have commented before about the outrageous prices that Americans pay for prescription drugs. (Note that, by law, Medicare is not permitted to negotiate drug prices, unlike every other country in the world.) Colorado is finally doing something about it:

In a first for the country, Colorado just passed legislation putting a cap on the soaring price of insulin.

This week Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill aimed at stopping pharmaceutical companies from charging obscene amounts for the medication.

More than 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. That’s over 9% of the total U.S. population. And 7 million of them require insulin. Currently, diabetics in the U.S. can be charged as much as $1,000 for just one month’s supply of insulin—a cost that leads some to ration its use, leading to further health problems and even death.

According to The Right Care Alliance:

“[M]anufacturers Eli Lilly, Sanofi, and Novo Nordisk mark up the price as much as 5,000 percent and there are seven million Americans with diabetes that have no choice but to pay.

The price is so high that people are doing desperate things to get by, like using expired insulin, relying on crowdfunding to pay their bills, or taking less insulin than they need in an effort to ration their supplies.”

It's a small step, but a step in the right direction. What's more encouraging is this:

The bill goes one step further and calls for an investigation of “the pricing of prescription insulin drugs” and a report submitted to the governor by November 2020.

Now, if they expand that to include prescription drugs in general, we might begin to see some progress. And just to drive the point home:

Thumbnail


Thanks to commenter Doug105 at Joe.My.God.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

A nice mix this week:

Music from Down Under, A History of Ice Cream, Supernatural Westerns, Game of Thrones, the Great Machine, and other goodies

And it's all there waiting for you.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Today's Must-Read: "Christian Nation"

If this doesn't send a chill up your spine. . . .

Recently, a congressional staffer going about his business on the Hill encountered a couple of people who handed him a pamphlet with the scintillating title "Sexual Sin and the Aphrodisiac of Power." Sadly, this was not a post-#MeToo effort to discourage sexual harassment in the halls of Congress. Instead, the document implored "legislators, staff and lobbyists" to adopt a strict fundamentalist view of sexuality, which holds that there is no legitimate expression of sex — including masturbation — outside "the confines and commitment of a husband and a wife (a male and a female) in the bonds of matrimony."

Most urban dwellers, in Washington or elsewhere, have had these chance encounters with religious proselytizers trying to lure in the lost, lonely and emotionally vulnerable. But this was no random encounter with some true believer or doorbell-ringer. These folks were working for Capitol Ministries, a powerful right-wing group that is laser-focused on founder Ralph Drollinger's goal of recruiting public leaders and leaning on them to impose the group's far-right views on a public that overwhelmingly rejects them.


Furthermore, the group has been quite successful so far. As the pamphlet indicated, sponsors of the Capitol Ministries Bible Studies includes seven members of President Trump's Cabinet, the head of NASA, and Vice President Mike Pence. According to Peter Montgomery of People for the American Way, who has been monitoring Capitol Ministries for years now, the group has weekly Bible studies for House members and senators, as well as one for Cabinet officials.

"[Drollinger] uses this really rare and privileged access he has by doing things like a Bible study with members of the Cabinet to tell these powerful public officials that the Bible mandates right-wing economic, social and environmental policies," Montgomery told Salon.

This is what the "religious" right has been working toward for decades -- since Ronald Reagan, in his infinite wisdom, thought he could control the Moral Majority. And as an example as to how far these fanatics have corrupted the teachings of Christ, get this:

As Montgomery has carefully chronicled at Right Wing Watch, a blog for People for the American Way, this relationship between Drolllinger's teachings, right-wing ideology and Trump officials is visible in a number of policy choices. Drollinger is fiercely anti-immigration, claiming that God deliberately separated people at the Tower of Babel and, by implication, that they should stay that way. He opposes environmentalism as a "false religion." And, of course, he opposes same-sex marriage; and teaches that despite all the language in the Bible about caring for the poor and the vulnerable, programs that do so are illegitimate.

So if you were wondering about the origins of those rule changes that target the poor, immigrants, women, and sexual minorities -- minorities of all kinds, actually -- it's not just Trump's petty cruelty. It's the petty cruelty of the religious right.

Read the whole thing -- it focuses mostly on these "Christians'" attempts to control everyone else's sex lives (because, after all, they're obsessed with sex), but there's enough in there to indicate just how wide-ranging their agenda is.

Via Joe.My.God.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: Steven Brust: To Reign in Hell

Another Epinions orphan. There is another version at Green Man Review.

Fantasy literature as a genre seldom strays into the consideration of such literary criteria as "style." This is not to say that fantasy writers are generic – one can easily differentiate someone like C. J. Cherryh, with her lush, dense, highly colored prose and gift for dialogue from, for example, Charles de Lint, whose writing is equally lush, often equally dense, and just as captivating, but very different. But there are vanishingly few writers of fantasy who play with style the way Steven Brust does, and in Brust's hands, this means not only the quality and focus of his abilities as a wordsmith, but the assumption of style as a formal consideration that involves structure and theme. In Brokedown Palace, for example, he took the basic form and feel of a folktale and built a captivating novel of fantasy. The Taltos Cycle, a series of stories about a combination Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin (Vlad Taltos does a lot of the legwork and most of the thinking – he loves good food, but does not grow orchids) has a decidedly noir cast that brings it firmly into the camp of the classic American detective novel. His newest series, the Viscount of Adrilankha, began as an affectionate spoof of Alexandre Dumas in The Phoenix Guard and Five Hundred Years After. Throughout, Brust has displayed an ease and confidence that are truly awe-inspiring.

To Reign In Hell definitely fits the parameters. Brust's own idiosyncratic retelling of the War in Heaven and the casting down of Satan, it is in many ways a tribute to Roger Zelazny, with Dumas one of Brust's literary heroes. Zelazny wrote a glowing introduction to this book, and within a couple of paragraphs it is easy to see why he identified with it so strongly. Brust has used an episodic structure that is almost cinematic, borrowing devices that Zelazny made his own: the particular combinations of exposition and inference, direct narrative and ellipsis, become the literary equivalent of cuts and slow fades, moving the story along as though we were seeing it on the big screen. (If one has read such classic Zelazny as Creatures of Light and Darkness or his penultimate novel, Donnerjack, one can easily see the likeness.)

Brust also has a gift for characterization. His people are deftly and subtly drawn. Yaweh, in particular, moves from primus inter pares to omnipotent creator in a series of small, inevitable steps; far from being the all-knowing and all-powerful deity of Judaeo-Christian tradition, he is all too human, sometimes doubting his own rightness but ultimately acquiescing to what, he is told and comes to believe, is "necessary." This same subtlety and poignancy comes into play with most of the characters, and, while there is indeed a villain in the book, he is not the one the reader would expect – and even then, he can’t really be characterized as “evil,” merely ambitious and given to temporizing. In fact, there are really only a couple of characters who are not in some way sympathetic – the majority are all too human.

Perhaps not strangely in Brust's hands, this is not a story about "good" and "evil" – at least, not in our usual understanding of black/white, either/or, right/wrong – but is really a study of means and ends and the way that letting decisions make themselves is really a way of making decisions without the responsibility for their consequences. And, in this shades-of-gray viewpoint, integrity is not a marketable commodity. And so Satan, while trying to decide if he can wholeheartedly support Yaweh’s plan to create a completely safe realm for the inhabitants of Heaven (which is subject to periodic Waves from the surrounding flux, from which angels are created and by which they are destroyed while they battle to push the flux back outside their boundaries) in spite of its costs, is able to say to Yaweh: “I have never lied about who I was, what I was doing, or why I was doing it. You have done all of these.” Brust very neatly turns the traditional story and the traditional take on who are the heroes and villains on their heads. Both Yaweh and Satan are isolated, subject to counsel that is not necessarily bad in itself, but one-sided, leaving them vulnerable to the expectations generated by rumor on the one hand and the need for leadership on the other; the machinations of someone whose only guide is his own ambition provide the telling blow.

This is a book that can be read many ways, and there are many themes that reside in what is really a very concise, almost terse presentation of a age-old story: the ease with which we are corrupted by power, the easy perversion of sanctity by authority, the disease of fanaticism and its stomach for atrocities in the service of a "higher law,” the vulnerability of good will and tolerance. To Reign In Hell has that protean quality that is characteristic of all significant works of art – and I have no reservations about calling it just that.

Another point of comparison with Zelazny is that, while dealing with serious matters, both are known for the expert and almost surgically precise application of irony and a light touch. One senses the distance that each maintains from the heavy freight they are conveying, a stance that lets them set the issues out very clearly without ever letting them become ponderous.

The only complaint I have about To Reign In Hell seems to be built in: it's a known story, with a known outcome (although in Brust's hands, the means are something of a surprise), and even in this rendering, this known outcome is the logical outgrowth of character and events. The result from the reader's standpoint is that the climax is more than a little anticlimactic. Even with all the givens, I really had hoped for something a little grander, even while realizing that would have subverted and cheapened the book.

I don't mean, by all these comparisons with other writers, to imply that Brust is in any way lacking. Indeed, as I have read more of his work, I have come to realize that he is undoubtedly one of the finest writers in fantasy today. Even a relatively early novel such as this one (it was originally published in 1984) has a maturity and depth that many writers never achieve. I think it's axiomatic that an author can only be successful at parody if he is operating from a strong base of his own, and Brust seems to prove my point.

(Tom Doherty Associates; originally published by SteelDragon Press, 1984)