"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, February 27, 2019

Today's Must-Read: Boom!

Here's Michael Cohen's opening statement to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. The core:

I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is.

He is a racist.

He is a conman.

He is a cheat.

He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop of Democratic National Committee emails.

I will explain each in a few moments.

And he does.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019


The anti-vaxxer movement, not satisfied with exposing everyone's children to preventable diseases, has now found a new target:

After making a significant dent into vaccination numbers among the human population, the anti-vaccination movement now has a four-legged target.

The Guardian reports that owners of cats and dogs are being advised against vaccinating their pets for fear of causing cancer, autoimmune hemolytic anemia and even autism.

Just what we need -- a rabies epidemic.

Tweet du Jour

I remember reading the Court's majority opinion in Citizens United. As I recall, the "reasoning", if you want to call it that, was so tortured as to be embarrassing. If you want to wade through it, the decision is here. There's also a good, if somewhat dense, discussion at Wikipedia.

To say that this was one of the most controversial decisions in recent history is putting it mildly. It was also one of the most unpopular. (It's worth noting that a Google search for "Citizens United decision" turns up lots and lots of commentary, but I had to refine my search to "Citizens United decision text" to get the actual decision.)

At any rate, it's nice to know that someone is working on overturning one of the most damaging Supreme Court decisions ever. And it's sobering to realized that we can expect much worse now that the Republicans have managed to stack the Court with a "conservative" majority.

Thanks to commenter Max_1 at Joe.My.God.

Comment du Jour


With thanks to commenter Max_1 at Joe.My.God.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

*It's a special edition this week -- Food and Drink. Everything from pizza to chocolate to a survey of Scotland's best distilleries, and more, so go on over and enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Today's Must Read: That Scandalous Feinstein Video

You may have run across coverage of an interchange between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a group of high-schoolers. I'd strongly recommend you search out the full video rather than the edited version that's being jumped on the media. Here's some level-headed coverage from Adam L. Silverman at Balloon Juice:

Earlier today Waleed Shahid, fresh off of getting dragged for posting barbered and highly edited clips of Senator Harris from her town hall on his twitter feed several weeks ago, decided it was time to set his sights on the senior senator from California. As I suspected in the comments to an earlier post, Shahid had once again posted heavily edited videos on his twitter feed to go after someone that doesn’t measure up to his purity fanaticism. Fortunately, just like the last time, someone came along to set the record straight.

Silverman goes on to include a twitter-feed with the full, unedited video, which puts things in a very different light. Then he goes on to discuss the "Justice Democrats," who seem to be interested in anything but justice.

To be quite candid, I'm more than a little fed up with the left-wing purity police and the rush to judgment (a prime example, this post at Crooks and Liars; at least she included a link to the full video, although she posted the edited version). They gave us Donald Trump, and now seem intent on a reprise for 2020. Assuming he hasn't been impeached.

(Footnote: yes, I've been largely silent, due in part to a slow recovery -- I think I pushed too hard too fast -- and in part to being sick of the news, which is full of breathless speculation on -- well, you name it.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Tweet du Jour

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Review: Tite Kubo, Hideki Tachibana: Bleach Movie 1: Memories of Nobody

Tite Kubo's Bleach, an action-packed supernatural adventure, has been a phenomenally successful manga series (approaching 40 volumes in English) and anime TV series (275 episodes). (The irony here is that when Kubo first offered it to a publisher, it was rejected.) Four feature films have been developed from the series. Memories of Nobody is the first.

The basic situation for the series is that fifteen-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki (his first name means "strawberry," for his red hair) has always been able to see ghosts. This has now made him a target for a kind of wandering spirit known as a "Hollow" -- souls that cannot enter the Soul Society and so wander the earth, feeding off the souls of the newly dead -- and the living. He encounters Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper whose job is to destroy Hollows and to send other souls on their way to the Soul Society. When a Hollow attacks Ichigo's home, Rukia is forced to try to give him some of her power to help fight it off; unfortunately, she winds up giving him all of her power, making him a Substitute Soul Reaper. After they defeat the Hollow, Rukia has to lay low until her power regenerates. But Ichigo is still a Soul Reaper -- and a very powerful one.

Memories of Nobody begins with a strange build-up of spiritual energy. Suddenly, Ichigo and Rukia are beset by "Blanks," souls with no memories. They are hard pressed until the advent of Senna, a Soul Reaper who manages to make short work of the Blanks. The only problem is, the Soul Society has never heard of Senna. And there's a crisis on the rise: the World of the Living and the Soul Society are being drawn together by a strange current generated in the Valley of Screams, which appears when Blanks reach, as it were, a critical mass. There's a plot involved, by a clan that was banished from the Soul Society a thousand years before, and Senna is a central part of it.

Where to start? The story is tight and engaging, with lots of action. The final battle between the Soul Reapers and the Dark Clan is great fun. I especially liked the way the Soul Reapers and their opponents aren't particularly bound by the laws of gravity -- there's something about a mid-air sword fight that's really appealing.

The animation is excellent. It's obvious the crew were able to take the time and care to create a fluent and seamless visual experience. Character designs are also wonderful -- the characterizations are strongly individual and fully realized, and faces and body language are very expressive. Settings and backgrounds are complete without being obtrusive, and beautifully rendered. From the standpoint of creative design, this one is top notch.

Which leads me to the character of Ichigo, on whom the whole story hinges. He's a remarkable young man, a saint with attitude, confrontational, idealistic, and with a streak of compassion a mile wide. Senna, likewise, is a very appealing character, a scatterbrained teenage girl whose memories are not all her own. In fact, the characters as a group are well-rounded personalities, including those Soul Reapers and Ichigo's school friends who make brief appearances. Even the villain, Ganryu, shows signs of humanity. They're all more than cartoons.

And I've got to mention Kon. Kon is a modified soul who takes over Ichigo's body when he is in Soul Reaper mode. (Remember, Soul Reapers are spiritual warriors and don't necessarily have physical bodies.) In between times, he occupies a stuffed bear. He's also one of the main sources of comedy -- he and Ichigo don't get along all that well, and their confrontations are pretty funny.

My one gripe is that this is a two-disc set, and the second disc is completely taken up with "special features," which are mostly storyboards and various trailers. The featurette on the making of the film, though, will be very helpful to those who are not familiar with the series. It contains commentaries by many of those involved in the production, including some of the actors from the English dub, explaining the background. (As always, I watched with Japanese dialogue and English subtitles. I just prefer it that way.) There is also a very helpful booklet that outlines the story and introduces the characters. I just wish they had put the featurette on the same disc as the movie and offered it at half the price.

This is an original story based on the characters and situations in the series. I have the advantage of having at least started the manga series, and I've watched the first few episodes of the TV anime, so I wasn't completely lost. I don't think I'd necessarily recommend coming into it cold, unless you're prepared to take a lot on faith. But you can always watch the featurette and read the booklet to get up to speed. I loved it -- I'll probably revisit it periodically.

(Viz Media, 2006)

What's New at Green Man Review

It's that time of the week again, and some real interesting stuff at GMR:

A Bevy of Nordic Recordings, Live Music from Skerryvore, Gaiman’s Books of Magic and Other Wonderful Things

Check it out.

So, After Declaring a National Emergency

Trump went golfing.

Nice to know he's on top of things.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Science Note: Unsung Hero

The Mars rover "Opportunity" has been declared dead, mission accomplished. Here's a whole twitter thread on the mission.

NASAVerified account
@NASA Yesterday
Today, we’re expressing gratitude for the opportunity to rove on Mars as we mark the completion of a successful mission that exceeded our expectations.


Oppy's mission was original planned for ninety days. He kept going for fifteen years.

(And isn't it interesting the way we anthropomorphize things? I can't shake the image of this plucky little robot, going on against the odds.)

Today in Disgusting People, Part II: Rewriting History Edition

Robert Jeffress is perhaps one of the most shameless "Christian" hucksters out there. Today he's come out (again) in support of our own fascist dictator wannabe, citing the rise of Hitler:

“We cannot afford to be like German Christians who, in the rise of the evil reign of Adolf Hitler, just remained neutered. They remained silent. And you saw what happened there,” Jeffress said. “I think there’s a similar wave of godlessness that is rising in our country right now and we must push back against that tide.”

What Jeffress refuses to note, of course, is that Hitler rose to power with the support of the German churches. In fact, he made a big deal about how his movement was all about religious freedom:

"We demand the freedom of all religious confessions in the state, insofar as they do not jeopardize the state's existence or conflict with the manners and moral sentiments of the Germanic race. The Party as such upholds the point of view of a positive Christianity without tying itself confessionally to any one confession. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit at home and abroad and is convinced that a permanent recovery of our people can only be achieved from within on the basis of the common good before individual good."

Sound familiar?

Today in Disgusting People: Valentine's Day Edition

Apparently there's a "Christian" group wanting to dictate where you spend your money on Valentine's Day. (Yeah, well, no surprise there.) They find some of the ways major candy companies spend their money to be offensive to their "Christian values." Thus, this alert to the faithful:

Valentine’s Day is this week and for many that means choosing candy to give to your significant other. You have many options out there when it comes to candy, but 2nd Vote wants to make sure you are informed on where your consumer dollars will be going after you purchase the candy.

Once you've paid for the candy, they're not your dollars any more.

If you choose Hershey’s as your Valentine’s Day candy of choice, unfortunately you will be indirectly supporting leftist organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and other organizations that work to undermine protections for religious liberty. . . .

Another candy company to avoid this Valentine’s Day is Mars. Mars is a company that is most famously known for its popular chocolate bars such as Snickers, Musketeers, Milky-Ways, and M&Ms. As much as we all might enjoy these candy bars, we dislike how Mars spends our consumer dollars. Mars scores a 2.1 because of their support of groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, Planned Parenthood, and LULAC.

Yeah, well, Planned Parenthood is a no-brainer, as is the HRC, because everyone knows that leaving people alone to live their lives as they choos is an assault on "religious liberty". But the World Wildlife Fund? Actually, one of my main objections to Christianity, aside from the concept of Original Sin itself, is the idea that man and nature fell from grace and that man can be redeemed, but nature cannot. That's just a flimsy excuse to pillage the only home we have. So, not supporting the World Wildlife Fund is in itself enough reason to give this group a zero rating on the decent human being scale.

Hershey makes a decent dark chocolate. I think its time to treat myself to one.

Oh, and happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Today in Trump's America: Genocide is Funny

There seems to be a lot of puzzlement over this tweet from the Tweeter in Chief:

The puzzlement seems to stem from wondering whether Trump knows about the Trail of Tears. (It's sort of indicative that his apologists are relying on his fundamental ignorance about just about everything as an excuse.)

Of course he knows. And he thinks something like this is funny.

If you had any doubts about what a total loss Trump is as a human being -- well, what rock have you been hiding under?

(And note: any of his cultists who actually understand the reference probably think it's funny.)

Via Joe.My.God.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

This Week at Green Man Review

Yep, it's that time of the week again:

Really Small Libraries, Joni Mitchell does William Butler Yeats, The Dubliners in Concert and Other Fine Matters
Sounds suitably cryptic, doesn't it? It's a pretty interesting mix -- but then it always is. Trot on over and enjoy.

Can You See Where This Is Headed?

Candace Owen is apparently another of the right-wing's token black "conservatives" who seems to have even less on the ball than most of them. Speaking to a group of UK conservatives:

I actually don’t have any problems at all with the word nationalism. I think that it gets — the definition gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want. So, when you think about whenever we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine.

“The problem is that he wanted — he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German, everybody to look a different way. That’s not — to me, that’s not nationalism. So, in thinking about how we could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism. I really don’t. I think that it’s okay.

“It’s important to retain your country’s identity and to make sure that what’s happening here, which I think is incredibly worrisome in terms of just the decrease in the birth rate that we’re seeing in the U.K., is what you kind of want to avoid. So I’m not — I have no problems with nationalism. It’s globalism that I try to avoid.

Keep in mind that "globalist" is Nazi-speak for "vast Jewish conspiracy."

The reality is that we live in a global society already. It starts with economics -- there's a lot of trade between and among the countries of the world, facilitated by an international banking system and a multitude of treaties. There is also, and has been for centuries, is not longer, an interchange of ideas. People, at least some people, seem to have this idea of all these little societies existing in their own little vacuums and having no contact with each other. Horsepucky. We've seen over and over again how technology, religion, even languages get spread around among different groups. As time has gone by, it's just gotten bigger and more complex.

Bottom line: Globalism is here to stay, barring the complete collapse of human civilization.

Given Owen's admiration for Hitler, perhaps this should come as no surprise:

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) urged Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker early Friday afternoon to investigate career Dept. of Justice employees to ensure they are loyal to President Donald Trump. . . .

"I would hope that wisdom in you as Attorney General," Congressman Gohmert told Whitaker at the Judiciary Committee hearing, "would be to look at the backgrounds, look at the people who are political hacks, and figure out, 'Oh, they're giving me advice on this? This is not for my well-being, this is to hurt the President of the United States.'"

He then urged the Acting AG to ensure career DOJ officials are loyal to the President and the Attorney General.

Granted, Gohmert is the stupidest member of Congress (although he has lots of competition for the title), but this is beyond the Pale, even for him.

Government officials take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and the country, not to some fat dictator wannabe.

This is what the Republican party has come to.


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


Thursday, February 07, 2019

What's New at Green Man Review

The combination of extreme cold outside and extreme heat inside did me in, but I'm back and pretty well mended, so it's time for some catch-up. All sorts of neat things at Green Man Review this week:

Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Rhetorics of Fantasy, Sipping Chocolate, Live Music by Philip Glass, Sonic Screwdrivers, Jelly Babies, Gruagachs and other matters

It's really an eclectic mix this week, even more so than usual, so hop on over and enjoy.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Heat Wave

So when I got up this morning it was five degrees above zero, for the first time in what seems like forever.

This being Chicago, we're headed for another one of the roller-coaster periods: tomorrow mid-30s, Sunday mid-40s, Monday lower 50s.

Then back down to the 20s.

Outrage du Jour

It occurs to me that with the Trump regime in place, I could make that an actual department on this blog. The problem would be deciding which one to highlight.

This one, however, deserves attention:

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is pushing ahead with the sale of oil and gas leases on land outside of Chaco Culture National Historical Park and other sites revered by Native American tribes, The Associated Press reported.

The latest listing — which quietly appeared on the BLM website not long after the government reopened after the shutdown — comes about a year after then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke postponed a lease sale in the Greater Chaco Region in response to intense public pressure over cultural and environmental concerns.

BLM will open a protest period for comments from Feb. 11 through Feb. 20 for a sale scheduled for March 28, according to the agency's notice. More than 50 parcels in New Mexico and Oklahoma will be on the auction block.

They will keep at it until they manage to do it. And it's not only the cultural and historical significance of the site: we're talking about an extremely fragile environment, in an area that is not so far away from the earthquake-prone West Coast -- and we know fracking contributes to earthquakes, or actually is a cause. I really have to wonder what kind of influence is at work here. Of course, since the GOP is working very hard to institute an oligarchy, this may just be the new normal.

In case you're not familiar with Chaco Canyon:

It happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well.

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