"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, May 31, 2018


Or, if you prefer to older spelling, "aestivation." It's the hot-weather equivalent of hibernation, when some animals enter a state close to suspended animation until things cool down.

That's what happens to me when we have stretches of near 90-degree weather, like for the past week or so. All I want to do is sleep.

We are promised respite tomorrow. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Culture Break: The Ivory Consort: Como Poden

This is the first track on their album Music From the Land of Three Faiths. I've gotten very fond of the music of medieval Iberia. Can't imagine why.

A Reminder

For all the RWNJs who are about to start screaming about Roseanne Barr's First Amendment right to freedom of speech being violated because just about every network and streaming service that is/was showing her new series or reruns of her old one has dumped her:


As might be expected, they're fine with the NFL trying to muzzle the players protesting police violence against minorities.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Today in Disgusting People: Usurper Edition

Memorial Day tweet from Fearless Leader:

Somehow, it's all about him.

I can hardly wait to see what he comes up with for Independence Day.

Via Joe.My.God., who has some of the reactions. (Hint: They're not real supportive.)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Review: Ludwig van Beethoven: 9 Symphonies (The London Classical Players, Roger Norrington, cond.)

This is another review that was first published at Epinions and is no longer available there.

In light of my continued fascination with the tension between traditional and contemporary sensibilities in music performance, it seems irresponsible not to comment on Roger Norrington’s release of the complete Beethoven symphonies. Norrington is an adherent of the “historically informed” school of performance philosophy. His recording of the symphonies, along with the overtures “Coriolan,” “Egmont,” and “Creatures of Prometheus,” give us an “original instruments” version in which Norrington has adhered to Beethoven’s metronome markings (Aha! you say. The famous metronome markings – which, by the way, are noted in the list of works included) and as closely as possible to the conventions of early nineteenth-century performance. The recordings are accompanied by highly informative historical and technical comments in English, French and German.

I thought long and hard about how to approach this review (a misnomer on its face – Beethoven is a little beyond my opinions, I think, and I have no particular agenda vis-à-vis modes of performance) and finally decided that, rather than try to deal with the interpretations of all nine symphonies (and after listening through the course of a day, my head is too full of glory to make a coherent statement on that basis), I would take one symphony – the Seventh – as my touchstone. Mostly that’s because it is the one I know best – my personal favorite, heard in any number of renditions – but it’s also, I think, characteristic of Beethoven, if somewhat more energetic than normal. (Wagner called it the “Dance Symphony,” and to prove it, he did – he danced to the whole thing while Liszt played it on the piano. They were in Italy at the time.)

One thing that’s striking right from the start: the feel of the music is lighter than I’ve been used to. There are subtleties here that I’ve never spotted before, and an amazing clarity to the sound. That all goes together, somehow, and I think it must be due at least in part to the use of instruments built on the standards of Beethoven’s day – the violins seem less hard in tone, the woodwinds somewhat more airy, the brass not quite so overpowering (more on that later). Norrington does establish early on a strong momentum to the work, although – one of those subtleties I mentioned – it begins as more of a subliminal pulse that carries the orchestra along. It’s not obvious at all, but sort of sneaks up on you as you realize you’re being carried right along with the orchestra. For a work by a composer noted for writing that seems to happen in fits and starts, who built the melodies as he went along out of parts he introduced separately, that’s quite remarkable.

The allegretto of the second movement is an even more obvious reflection of this tendency on Beethoven’s part, and Norrington highlights the way the parts fit together, keeping things moving fast enough that relationships become readily apparent. Since there is often some controversy about tempo in Beethoven’s works – many consider the composer’s own metronome markings to be too fast – I have to say that the in first version of this symphony I ever heard, by Otto Klemperer, I thought in my innocence that the second movement was a funeral march, analogous to the second movement of the Third Symphony. I find Norrington’s take much more suitable, although to be honest I think he could have pushed it just a little. I also have to mention the little fugato that Beethoven threw in here, simply because it’s one of my favorite things about Beethoven. This one is crisp, clear, and builds to a rousing crescendo that sets the stage for the meltingly lyrical passage that follows. The presto resumes that momentum, now much more apparent, and pure Beethoven: we’re seeing a fairly light-hearted version of romantic Sturm und Drang that Norrington pulls off beautifully.

The fourth movement, noted as “allegro con brio,” sort of encapsulates everything I find most appealing about Beethoven, and is one reason the Seventh is my favorite. And “brio” it is, high spirits, energy, and that momentum now a driving force that pulls the orchestra, the audience, and sometimes I think the universe as well to the overwhelming finale. Oddly enough, given all the arguments about tempo, I find that Norrington’s finale, and the movement as a whole, is slower than my preferred versions, those by Herbert von Karajan and William Steinberg. It’s about energy and running on the edge: Norrington’s version is almost too well-behaved and, I think, loses some impact because of it. (Steinberg’s version, heard long ago on a radio broadcast, is breathtaking, the horns in the final fanfare just on the verge of breaking, the whole orchestra right on the border of losing it, but never quite. It’s amazing – just the sort of thing a twenty-something with more hormones than brains wants from Beethoven.) This is not to say that Norrington’s version lacks impact – there are passages here that stop you cold. One comes away with a real sense of controlled passion.

Which leads me to the essence of the whole collection: intelligence in the service of passion. Norrington has brought a great deal of intelligence to his interpretations and managed to keep the symphonies alive while doing it, catching that intensity that is one of the main reasons we listen to Beethoven. Can’t ask for much more.

(EMI Records, 1989)

What's New at Green Man Review

And there's a lot this week:

Oliver Brewing Company’s Cherry Blossom Cherry Wheat Ale, Canadian singer-songwriter Dana Sipos, Scottish singer Siobhan Miller, another treat from Folkmanis, the interconnectedness of our reviews, Oysterband’s ‘Red Barn Stomp’, ‘Places’ in fantasy novels, and other cool things

There's even more, so scoot on over and enjoy.

Today's Must-Watch

As a follow-up to this post from yesterday, I strongly recommend that you watch this segment of All In with Chris Hayes. It's horrifying, and it's our government doing it:

Via Digby, who notes the "president's" reaction to the bad PR:

And his base thinks it's all OK, because they are as ugly and racist as he is. Clinton was too kind: they're not "deplorables" -- they're contempible.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

My Politically Incorrect Brain

I tend to misread things if I happen to catch just a glance. For example, there's an ad on the buses that says "What It Vivitrol?" (It doesn't tell you what it it, except to give one of those horrible made-up drug names that bear no relation to any known human language.) I keep reading it as "What Is Vitriol?"

But the one that caps all the others is: I have the first volume of Glen Cook's Instrumentalities of the Night series sitting out, which is titled The Tyranny of the Night. Needless to say, as I walk by and catch it out of the corner of my eye, I read it as The Tranny of the Night.

And don't think that doesn't call up some weird images.

WWJD? As If They Care

I don't know if I've mentioned this here in so many words, but have you noticed how evangelical "Christians" are oblivious to the teachings of Christ? I ran across two stories this morning that point that up, one directly, one indirectly, but first a couple of Bible verses to set the context. First, from the Gospel According to St. Matthew, Chapter 25:

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. 36 I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

40 “The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 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.”
(Emphasis added.)

I emphasized those lines because this post is about refugees (and, by extension, immigrants).

Add in that the Bible is replete with verses admonishing believers to welcome strangers.

Now, from Friendly Atheist, a recent poll:

When it comes to accepting the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the least of these — you know, the people Jesus loved — white evangelical Christians are the least likely people to lend a helping hand.

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that white evangelicals rank lowest when it comes to saying the U.S. has a responsibility to accept refugees. Only 25% of them approve of accepting people who escape their countries and seek a better life in the United States, compared to 43% of white mainline Protestants and 65% of people without organized religion.

And, via Digby, just to point up the way we treat refugees:

Now, we’ve uncovered tens of thousands of pages of evidence documenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials physically, sexually, and verbally abusing children. The majority of these children are asylum seekers fleeing violence in Mexico and Central America. Some are teenage mothers. Some are escaping gang violence. Some are in need of medical attention. All of them have risked their lives to find safety – and tragically, CBP has shattered that dream for so many.

CBP’s abuses are not only unconscionably inhumane, but they also violate United States law and international human rights law, which give protections to migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers – no matter their country of origin.

The uncovered documents show CBP officials – including Border Patrol agents – committing the following abuses:

Threatening children with rape and death
Depriving children of food and water and holding them in freezing and unsanitary detention cells
Shooting children with Tasers and stun guns
Punching a child in the head repeatedly
Running over two 17-year-olds with patrol vehicles
Subjecting a 16-year-old girl to a search in which they forcefully spread her legs and touched her genitals

The violations are numerous. By law, CBP can’t hold unaccompanied children for longer than 72 hours. Children in CBP custody are entitled to safe facilities, adequate food and water, and proper medical care. And as federal officials, CBP officers are legally required to report all allegations of child abuse to law enforcement, child protective services, or the FBI.

I can't help but wonder how many of these ICE agents think of themselves as good Christians.

There's a petition at the link.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Might Makes Right: NFL Edition

After all due deliberation, the NFL owners have reached a policy on player protests:

NFL owners approved a new national anthem policy Wednesday that gives individual teams the authority to set their own anthem-related rules and permits players to remain in the locker room during the playing of the anthem, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

The new policy eliminates the current requirement from the league’s game operations manual for a player to be on the field for the playing of the anthem, allowing a player to remain in the locker room. Teams would then have the ability to set their own policy for players who choose to take the field for the anthem, including the ability to discipline a player for any protest during the national anthem.


The new policy also is expected to contain a clause that the league could fine a team for any protest by a player on the sideline during the anthem, according to a person familiar with the owners’ deliberations.

They're calling this a "compromise." Right.

The reaction has not been universally positive, and at least one owner is telling them to fuck off:

Despite the NFL’s approval of a revised policy that requires players on the field to stand during the national anthem, Jets chairman Christopher Johnson told Newsday on Wednesday that his players are free to take a knee or perform some other protest without fear of repercussion from the team.

“I do not like imposing any club-specific rules,” Johnson said. “If somebody [on the Jets] takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players.

Even the New York Times let them have it:

The owners of the National Football League have concluded, with President Trump, that true patriotism is not about bravely standing up for democratic principle but about standing up, period.

Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field.

Let us hope that in keeping with the league’s pinched view of patriotism, the players choose to honor the letter but not the spirit of this insulting ban. It might be amusing, for example, to see the owners tied in knots by players who choose to abide by the injunction to “stand and show respect” — while holding black-gloved fists in the air.

Remember this?

Photo:  Getty Images

And one former player noted the raging hypocrisy:

Something tells me this isn't over yet:


Lawsuits in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . .

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Culture Break: Terry Riley: Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band

OK, so it's Terry Riley Week. It could be a lot worse -- I could be feeding you a combination of Balinese gamelan and hard-core serial minimalism.

This one's from the Rainbow in Curved Air CD. Couldn't find a live performance on YouTube (and it's unbelievable how few videos there are of Riley live), so you get to listen without visuals.

Yes, of course he's one of my favorites.

Image du Jour

This one cracked me up:


Thanks to commenter Mikey at Joe.My.God.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

And the Right Wing Goes Wild!

The Obamas have signed a multi-year deal with Netflix:

In an announcement on Monday, Netflix revealed that Barack and Michelle Obama had signed a multiyear deal to produce films and series.

The reaction from the trumpanzees is as might be expected. A couple of samples:

There's more at the link. You'll note that these examples are not unusually incoherent for right-wingers. It's also worth noting that the responses to these two, at least, are not terribly supportive.

At least Obama waited until he was out of office to capitalize on his presidency.

Footnote: There are way too many self-appointed pundits who keep insisting that we on the left have to understand these people and their concerns -- economic insecurity, changing society, blah, blah, blah. I do understand them: they are small-minded, petty, self-absorbed, vindictive people who resist anything contrary to what they "know", and what they "know" comes from demagogues and con artists. They need authority telling them what to do and what to think.

Vox has an interesting, and fairly disturbing article on at least part of this phenomenon, via Digby.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

Florida is getting even stranger than I thought:

I wonder how many of them voted for Trump?

Monday, May 21, 2018

And on the Other Hand

That thumping sound is the USCCB fainting and hitting the floor:

A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope two weeks ago about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles, said the issue of his sexuality had arisen because some of the Latin American country’s bishops had sought to depict him as a pervert as they accused him of lying about the abuse.

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El País.

This is not a random occurrence -- Francis has made similar comments in the past, though not as straightforward as this.

Via Joe.My.God.

And it seems to be part of a trend:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted that gay people have been “appallingly” treated by the Church of England.

Archbishop Justin Welby has been at the centre of splits in both the Church of England and the global Anglican Communion over LGBT issues.

 Liberal clergy are pushing for a more accepting stance towards same-sex couples, while traditionalists want the Church to stick by teachings that homosexuality is “unnatural”.

For "traditionalists" read "reactionaries," who somehow remain convinced that the 4,000 year old tribal taboos of a group of Middle Eastern nomads form the basis of morality. And it seems that the heaviest resistance to change in the Anglican Communion is coming from the African bishops, who think that the worst aspects of the colonial period are somehow "African."

Well, I wish them both luck. They're going to need it.


Today in Christian Love

Actually, the fact that the police protected the marchers is sort of surprising:

Religious hard-liners in Moldova's capital tried to crash a rally in support of the country's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community but were fended off by police who deployed tear gas.

The Orthodox Christian protesters unsuccessfully attempted to break through a police line set up to guard dozens off demonstrators who marched through Chisinau in the May 19 rally against homophobia.

Video footage from the scene showed Orthodox activists rinsing their eyes with water after apparently being repelled by police.

It's even more surprising considering that Moldova's president is such an anti-gay piece of work:

The Moldovan branch of Amnesty International last year accused President Igor Dodon of violating the country's constitution by saying that he was not the president of Moldovan gays.

"I have never promised to be the president of the gays, they should have elected their own president," Dodon told reporters the same day as last year's rally that police cut short.

Dodon had criticized last year's march before it was held, saying it promoted "actions [that] contradict our traditional values."

Dodon said ahead of this year's march that "only normal families" have a place in Moldova.

A note to Dodon: Life is change; adapt or die. You might keep that in mind.

Vias Joe.My.God.

I Hate Mornings Like This

Again, it's chilly, rainy, windy, and gloomy. I'm way too subject to weather conditions, and I'm a sunshine and warm days kind of person. Days like this, I can't get started.

Maybe I should move to New Mexico or something.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: Terry Riley: Requiem for Adam

It appears that eBay has taken the final step and eliminated all reviews: the links for Epinions reviews in my "Reviews" pages go to Shopping.com, which claims that it can't find the page. So, expect a lot of recycling here. I will be updating links on the "Reviews" pages as material is republished.

And since Terry Riley is in the air today (see the GMR post below), here's a review of his Requiem for Adam:

Terry Riley’s Requiem for Adam was written as a memorial to Adam Harrington, son of David Harrington, of the Kronos Quartet, and Regan Harrington, who died suddenly at the age of 16 of a coronary thrombosis while walking with his family on Mt. Diablo, near San Francisco. Riley is a close friend of the Harringtons, and Adam shared a birthday with his own son.

The Requiem is cast in three movements: “Ascending the Heaven Ladder,” “Cortejo Funebre en el Monte Diablo,” and “Requiem for Adam.” “Ascending the Heaven Ladder” opens with a quiet, spare passage that is quite funereal; there are small quivers of dissonance in this section, often unexpected and unsettling, as it rises to passages that are quite ethereal and that somehow, without our really noticing it, begin to incorporate dance rhythms, and then progressing with some intensity to another ascent and again, quiet. In the “Cortejo,” the quartet is joined by an electronic soundtrack of horns, bells, electronic percussion and gongs for an opening that establishes the feeling of a processional – the image in the first measures recalls nothing so much as the Third Movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, with its broken fugato treatment of the traditional children’s song, “Frere Jacques.” Like the Mahler, the “Cortejo” gets a bit raucous; Riley himself says that this is “funeral music more in the tradition of New Orleans Dixieland than Beethoven,” which is certainly an accurate assessment. The movement gradually takes on a driving, almost frantic rhythm that comes dangerously close to that characteristic of contemporary music that I call “urban Weltschmerz,” a holdover from the days when dissonance was all the rage – and then, the music stops, abruptly. The “Requiem” opens with another quiet, contemplative passage that calls to mind long vistas viewed with only the wind for company, the quiet of wild, lonely places, the deep silence of grief, which moves into a a pulsing, 7/8 dance rhythm, building to an intensity that suddenly catapults itself back into a very quiet, almost tenuous passage that echoes the similar sections in the first movement, and leaves us hearing an afterimage as the final resolution.

Riley captures, in these three movements, all the energy and passion of a young man who, as Riley says, “had music raging in him – the pulsations of a young life with its longings for freedom, to see as far as one can see, from the top.”

The Philosopher’s Hand, which finishes off the album, is a short (app. 5 minutes) track of Riley improvising at the piano on a suggestion by David Harrington that he play something for four or five minutes “thinking of Pandit Pran Nath,” a philosopher and friend of Harrington and Riley. The result is serene, thoughtful, and elegant, recalling is some measure that combination of fluidity and edginess in the piano music of Erik Satie.

Riley is an astonishing composer, formally considered a Minimalist along with Philip Glass and Steve Reich, but one who exhibits a very broad range and moves in other modes quite comfortably – I attended a concert by Riley a number of years ago here in Chicago; in the first half, he performed a classical Indian raga, followed by a shorter, informal raga; the second half was devoted to a work for altered piano, sitar and drums, which brought down the house. His availability on CD is, unfortunately, quite limited commercially. (Note: Since this was written, Riley's music has become much more available.) He certainly deserves wider exposure, although his music is certainly not material for W-Rock-R-Us FM.

The liner notes for this CD, written by Riley and Bob Gilmore, are very well done and quite informative. (The booklet is also quite beautiful, illustrated by photographs from the “Black Pulse” series by Mike and Doug Starn.) Riley talks about Adam Harrington and the technical design of the Requiem. Gilmore talks about Riley and his impact on contemporary music, crediting him with inventing repetitive minimalism, further developed by Reich and Glass, and tracing the development of Riley’s style through the 1960s and 70s. It was while teaching at Mills College in Oakland, California, that Riley met four young people in the fall of 1978, a string quartet on the lookout for “new” music to add to their repertoire – the Kronos Quartet. This has been a relationship that has been important to the development of both partners, and only underscores the point that, aside from personal considerations, Kronos was the only possible group to record Requiem for Adam.

I admire Terry Riley immensely, and I love his music. I admire the Kronos Quartet, and they occupy a significant place in my music collection. Quite frankly, if you are not familiar with Terry Riley, I’d suggest you find an opportunity to listen to this music first. But, with the full realization that this music is not for everyone, I recommend Requiem for Adam very highly.

It's Sunday Again

and time to check out What's New at Green Man Review:

Some Terry Riley works for string quartet, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, a Charles de Lint novel and video fiction, a new Fairport album, Mast Sea Salt Chocolate and other matters

And there are lots of other matters, so click through and check it out.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Month's School Shooting

Like Digby, I have nothing to say, so I'm just going to borrow her post:

She also includes a comment from David Hogg:

Just recently saw a comment that we're twenty weeks into 2018 and there have been 22 mass shootings.

Welcome to Trump's America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA.

Friday, May 18, 2018

We're Not Going to Disappear

No matter how hard the Trump regime tries to make it happen:

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) official disclosed that the agency will roll back support for the collection of data on the health and well-being of LGBT people through the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS).

“The BRFSS is one of the few federally-supported data collection activities that make the needs of LGBT people known to governmental agencies responsible for the safety, health and welfare of the public,” said Kerith J. Conron, the Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. “By removing LGBT measures from the BRFSS, the federal government is shirking its responsibility to LGBT Americans.”

Today, at the conference of the American Association for Public Opinion Research in Denver, Colo., a CDC official disclosed that the BRFSS module on sexual orientation and gender identity that the CDC provides to states will no longer be included among BRFSS optional modules starting in 2019. The sexual orientation and gender identity module has been an optional module since 2014 and has been used by over 30 states and territories.

According to the CDC, “[The BRFSS] is the nation’s premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and use of preventive services.” The BRFSS is a federal-state partnership, and it “collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. BRFSS completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.”

This is evangelical "Christian" thinking: if you pretend they don't exist, then they don't exist. And if you wonder about that connection, Joe.My.God. has more on Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, at the link. He's a real piece of work.

Idiot(s) du Jour

The Republicans on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. According to them:

The Earth is not warming. The White Cliffs of Dover are tumbling into the sea and causing sea levels to rise. Global warming is helping grow the Antarctic ice sheet.

Those are some of the skeptical assertions echoed by Republicans on the U.S. House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee yesterday. The lawmakers at times embraced research that questions mainstream climate science during a hearing on how technology can be used to address global warming.

Some of the specific comments are hair-raising:

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) questioned Duffy on the factors that contribute to sea-level rise, pointing out that land subsidence plays a role, as well as human activity.

Brooks then said that erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise, which is not an idea embraced by mainstream climate researchers. He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world's major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

"Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up," Brooks said.

Considering that the earth's surface is about 70% ocean, that the depth of the oceans averages just over 12,000 feet (the deepest part is over 36,000 feet, or just shy of seven miles), the oceans could easily swallow all the land on earth. Of course, at that point rise in sea level becomes irrelevant.

However, back to Brooks' comments; sorry, but erosion has minimal impact on sea level. As noted above, there's a lot more ocean than land on this planet, and the rate of deposition of sediment is insignificant in relation to sea level.

There's more, including the committee accusing federal climate scientists of fraudulently manipulating climate data. Read the whole thing.

One can't help but wonder how much money Big Oil has pumped into their campaign chests.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today in Disgusting People: Of Course He Does


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said on Wednesday that he now has a legal fund in place to help him fight off a growing list of allegations against him related to his spending and reported ethical missteps in office.

“It has been set up,” Pruitt told the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies about the fund. He was speaking during a hearing that was meant to focus on the EPA’s 2019 budget but that centered on questions about his conduct – including an allegation he had sought to be transported through traffic with flashing lights and sirens.

Pruitt has been under pressure from lawmakers in recent weeks over reports about his routine use of first-class travel, his 24/7 security detail, costly office renovations, and ties to industry – criticisms he called overblown on Wednesday.

"Overblown"? What? Not "Fake News"?

He is still supported by President Donald Trump and most Republicans lawmakers, who have welcomed his efforts to roll back Obama-era environmental regulations that are seen by industry as overly burdensome.

So, "industry" sees drinkable water and breathable air as "overly burdensome."

Out of all the crooks and grifters Trump has shoveled into his regime, Pruitt is undoubtedly among the two or three worst. And that's some pretty stiff competition.

Read the whole thing -- Pruitt is even worse than you imagined.

A Step At a Time

Thinking back over the past forty years or so, it's really remarkable how far we've come in society's acceptance of gays. And it shows up in unexpected ways:

Theodore Vidal and his boyfriend Colin Beyers were walking the Seaside Heights boardwalk on Friday after having spent the past few hours at Lacey High School. It was on that boardwalk that their story would become a national headline.

The bow-tie wearing teens had just attended Vidal's junior prom.

There's video at the link, which for some reason won't display in this format. However, via Towleroad, there's this description of the event:

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Culture Break: Colin McPhee: Balinese Ceremonial Music

This popped up on this morning's playlist (yeah, I listen to all sorts of stuff in the morning). McPhee is a fascinating figure in American music, more because of his influence than his actual compositions, which weren't often performed during his lifetime. His book, Music in Bali was tremendously influential on people such as Lou Harrison and Terry Riley. It's somewhat ironic that discussions of Riley's music focus on the influence of Indian raga and tend to ignore Balinese gamelan.

At any rate, here it is. From the introduction on YouTube:

While Canadian composer Colin McPhee lived in Bali only for the decade of the 1930s, he was so enamored of the music of the island's local percussion orchestra, the gamelan, that it shaped his entire compositional style. His Balinese musician friends were, for their part, intrigued when his piano arrived. As described in his book, A House in Bali, they were puzzled by the thick-sounding Western-style chords, but they quickly were impressed by the way one or two people at the keyboard could imitate the multi-layered simultaneous patterns of their own music. While in Bali, McPhee made over 40 direct transcriptions of Balinese gamelan compositions. His partner was the young British expatriate composer, Benjamin Britten. The set of transcriptions comprises three works, arranged in a typically Western fast/slow/fast suite. Since Balinese music with its patterns was an inspiration for minimalism (which McPhee, who died in 1964, did not quite live to witness) this music sounds surprisingly modern.

Somehow, I'm Not Surprised

I get the feeling Trump has been played:

Donald Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong-un has been thrown into uncertainty as North Korea warned it could be cancelled over US military exercises and if Washington presses ahead with its one-sided demand for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal.

Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea's deputy foreign minister, warned on Wednesday that Pyongyang was not interested in talks that would pressure the rogue state to "unilaterally" give up its nuclear programme, taking aim at "unbridled remarks" by John Bolton, the US national security adviser, and other high-ranking White House officials.

In a statement issued by the North Korean Central News Agency [KCNA], Mr Kim took issue in particular with Mr Bolton's references to the so-called Libya model of nuclear abandonment and his statements on "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation."

Mr Kim claimed the remarks cast doubt on America's sincerity, underlining that his country was not Libya, which met a "miserable fate."

He added: "This is not an expression of intention to address the issue through dialogue. It is essentially a manifestation of awfully sinister moves to impose on our dignified state the destiny of Libya or Iraq which had [sic] been collapsed due to yielding the whole of their countries to big powers."

Trust Bolton to stick his foot in it, but I think Kim was just looking for an excuse -- and sure enough, Trump gave it to him.

There goes the Nobel Prize (pfft!).

Via Joe.My.God.

Hide Your Irony Meter

or you're going to have to replace it:

Via press release from the Family Research Council:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) today announced the appointment of Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as its newest commissioner, for a two-year term. Mr. Perkins will remain FRC president during his time with USCIRF.

Perkins must have written that release himself -- it goes on to turn reality on its head with its glowing description of Perkins' advocacy on behalf of "religious minorities" (trans: Christians in majority-Muslim countries).

All in all, it's just payback to the evangelicals to keep them in the fold.

Monday, May 14, 2018

We Can Make It Work If We Want To

Case in point: this story, which comes hard on the heels of John Kelly's remarks on immigrants.

First, the lead-in:

And then the story itself:

It was my second day at the biology class. There was a quiz. My bio teacher, Ms. Gallagher, told me I didn’t have to worry about the quiz since I just got to the class, but gave me the quiz sheet anyway.

This is more than 20 years ago, but I still very clearly remember every detail of that quiz sheet. The quiz was about photosynthesis. It had a diagram of a leaf, and I was supposed to write what kind of gas comes to the leaf, what is expelled, etc.

I remember staring at it for about five minutes, slowly getting angry with frustration. I was mad because the quiz was easy. I learned about photosynthesis in Korea as a 7th grade. I knew all the answers. Just not in English.

The quiz was my new reality. I hope you all have a chance to experience this: the experience of suddenly becoming stupid, suddenly having all of your knowledge turning into dust, useless and inaccessible in a new environment with new language.

After five minutes, I just decided to write in the quiz in Korean. It didn’t matter that Ms. Gallagher told me the quiz wouldn’t count; I wasn’t going to turn in a blank quiz sheet. I just had to prove to myself that I didn’t suddenly become stupid.

Two days later, Ms. Gallagher handed out the graded quiz. Then she announced to the class: “[TK] has the highest grade. He had the perfect score.” What – I looked at my quiz sheet. She graded my quiz in Korean, and gave me all the check marks.

I asked Ms. Gallagher (somehow) how she managed to grade my paper. Turned out Ms. Gallagher took my quiz to a Korean Am math teacher at my school. The math teacher’s Korean wasn’t great either, but she looked up the dictionary to help my bio teacher grade my quiz.

I get more emotional each time I think about this. Because the older I get, the more I realize what an extraordinary step Ms. Gallagher took for the sake of her student. She already told me the quiz wouldn’t count. She didn’t have to go through the trouble of grading my quiz.

But Ms. Gallagher graded my quiz. I truly believe that moment changed the trajectory of my immigrant life in the United States. Thanks to my teacher, I was able to prove to myself that I didn’t suddenly turn stupid. I just had to learn the new language.

So I did. I learned English, I studied hard, and graduated second of my class. My graduation speech was like a scene out of Napoleon Dynamite–it was so rambling and so terrible and so accented, my classmates were so confused. They were kind enough not to boo me off the stage.

I moved onto a good college, then a good law school. Now I’m a lawyer and writer who engages the world via my writing. I’ve had writing professors telling me they use my English writing as a model for their students. That blows my mind every time I hear it.

So. Every time a fuckshit like John Kelly talks about non-English speaking immigrants not assimilating to America, I think back to Ms. Gallagher. I remind myself that America has way more Ms. Gallaghers than John Kellys.

I don't think I need to add anything, except to note that the last comment is right: we do have a lot more Ms. Gallaghers than John Kellys. The problem is that assholes like Kelly and his boss are in charge -- at least for the time being.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

What's New at Green Man Review

It's Sunday again, and quite a mix of things at Green Man Review:

Nietzsche, Stephen King considered, chocolate of course and other matters

Nietzsche? Yes, you read that right. But it's the "other matters" that get really interesting, so pop over and take a look.

Friday, May 11, 2018

OK, This Is Funny

The 2020 Republican convention is already having problems:

Cities across the country are turning down the opportunity to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, where President Trump is expected to be nominated for a second term.

The cities that have rejected hosting duties insist Trump and today’s divisive politics are not factors in their decisions. They instead cite high security costs and disruptions in the normal flow of business and traffic.

But Trump is almost certainly a factor in some cities’ decisions to opt out.

Ya think?

It gets better:
“Most of the cities that have turned down the RNC are Democratic cities,” said Evan Siegfried, a New York-based Republican strategist.

I have news for Mr. Seigfried: most cities in this country are Democratic.

Via Joe.My.God.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Starting the Week Off Right

Via Digby, this story shows that it's not all con men and grifters in the world:

He is faster than a speeding stroller, more adorable than a kitten, and able to get a stranger's attention with a single courtesy. This is America's latest superhero -- and the only superhero with the power to feed the homeless.

By day, Austin Perine is a mild-mannered 4-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama. But once a week, he turns into this alter ego: a superhero set on feeding as many homeless people as possible. He likes to go by the name "President Austin."

"That's his idea of what the president is supposed to do," said TJ Perine, Austin's father. "I was like, buddy, you have no idea, but hey, I'm going along with it."

And of course, there's video.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

What's New at Green Man Review

It's that time of the week again, and there's more reviews at Green Man Review. This week turned out to be about folk rock, with some very entertaining stuff indeed, so go check it out.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

I Know Posting's Been Sketchy

for two reasons: 1) I managed to come down with a really nasty cold that left me totally drained; and 2) I'm so sick of Donald Trump and his assorted scandals that I don't even want to read about them, much less write about them.

A Few Warm Days

Photo:  Britannica.com
and things just explode: apples, hawthorns and magnolias are blooming, trees are leafing out all over the place, tulips are blooming, along with violets and a few other things I haven't been able to identify.

And there are already goslings at North Pond -- I saw a couple of pairs of geese with at least a dozen little ones from the bus yesterday. There will be ducklings soon, if there aren't already.

And of course, after today we go back down to the 50s.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Today's Must-Read: It's Out In the Open

From Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine:

In 1995, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre signed his name to a fundraising letter referring to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents as “jack-booted government thugs.” The implicit association of American federal law enforcement with fascists provoked a furor. Former president George H. W. Bush publicly resigned his NRA membership in protest; LaPierre had to apologize.

Last night, in the midst of a long, deeply incriminating interview, Rudy Giuliani called FBI agents “stormtroopers.” Here was the president’s lawyer, not an outside lobbyist, comparing federal law enforcement to Nazis directly, rather than indirectly. The Washington Post’s account of Giuliani’s interview noted the remark in a single sentence, in the 30th paragraph of its story. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Politico accounts of Giuliani’s interview did not even mention the stormtrooper remark at all.

Note that last part: if you're wondering what part our "free, independent and adversarial press" has played in bringing about Trump, there it is: comparing the FBI to Nazis doesn't even rate a batted eyelash. As if that didn't make it obvious enough:

Rosenstein appears to have reached a limit. The New York Times reported yesterday that Rosenstein and some FBI officials “have come to suspect that some lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence about that investigation so that it could be shared with the White House.” The Republican document-demanding game is that they either force Rosenstein to compromise the investigation, letting them inside the prosecution so they can help Trump undermine it, or else he refuses their demands, giving them a pretext to fire him and install a more pliable figure. Rosenstein publicly declared the other day the game was up and he wasn’t going to be extorted any more.

The Wall Street Journal, which has served as a reliable mouthpiece for Trump’s legal defense, defends Congress’s right to take control of the investigation. “Congress is acting through its committees as a separate and co-equal branch of government—the branch that funds Justice and has the right and obligation to exercise oversight,” it editorializes. Rather than denying Rosenstein’s charge that his department is being extorted, the editorial confirms it, treating him like a cowering store owner who hasn’t quite got the message. “We don’t want to see Mr. Rosenstein fired or impeached,” the Journal concludes, “but he and the FBI need to recognize Congress’s constitutional authority.” Nice Department you got there, Rosenstein. We’d hate to see something happen to it.

The role of the press is only one part of this story. Of course House Republicans are trying to undermine Mueller's investigation: If Trump does down, they go down with him: to their way of thinking, the law should not apply to them, and if it applies to one of them, they're all in danger.

Read the whole thing, of course -- it's not really all that long, and it pulls together a lot of what I (and others) have been saying all along.

Via Digby, whose comments are worth reading as well.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018