Thursday, July 28, 2016

We live in scary times, but not for reasons Trump understands

Here are a couple of really good recent articles about current political events.

First up, the nomination of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump is not a man who should be president. This is not an ideological judgment. This is not something I would say about Mitt Romney or Marco Rubio. This is not a disagreement over Donald Trump’s tax plan or his climate policies. This is about Trump’s character, his temperament, his impulsiveness, his basic decency.
Back in February, I wrote that Trump is the most dangerous major candidate for president in memory. He pairs terrible ideas with an alarming temperament; he's a racist, a sexist, and a demagogue, but he's also a narcissist, a bully, and a dilettante. He lies so constantly and so fluently that it's hard to know if he even realizes he's lying. He delights in schoolyard taunts and luxuriates in backlash.
He has had plenty of time to prove me, and everyone else, wrong. But he hasn’t. He has not become more responsible or more sober, more decent or more generous, more considered or more informed, more careful or more kind. He has continued to retweet white supremacists, make racist comments, pick unnecessary fights, contradict himself on the stump, and show an almost gleeful disinterest in building a real campaign or learning about policy.    
Donald Trump’s nomination is the first time American politics has left me truly afraid by Ezra Klein
Klein explains reason after reason to support his contention here. It's devastating. Check it out.

Next up, the Russian hack of the DNC emails.
A foreign government has hacked a political party’s computers—and possibly an election. It has stolen documents and timed their release to explode with maximum damage. It is a strike against our civic infrastructure. And though nobody died—and there was no economic toll exacted—the Russians were aiming for a tender spot, a central node of our democracy.
But this document dump wasn’t a high-minded act of transparency. To state the obvious, only one political party has been exposed. (Selectively exposed: Many emails were culled from the abridged dump.) And it’s not really even the inner workings of the Democrats that have been revealed; the documents don’t suggest new layers of corruption or detail any new conspiracies. They’re something closer to the embarrassing emails that fly across every office in America—griping, the testing of stupid ideas, the banal musings that take place in private correspondence.
We should be appalled at the public broadcast of this minutiae. It will have a chilling effect—campaign staffers will now assume they no longer have the space to communicate honestly. This honest communication—even if it’s often trivial or dumb—is important for the process of arriving at sound strategy and sound ideas. (To be sure, the DNC shouldn’t need privacy to know that attacking a man for his faith is just plain gross.) Open conversation, conducted with the expectation of privacy, is the necessary precondition for the formation of collective wisdom and consensus. If we eviscerate the possibility of privacy in politics, we increase the likelihood of poor decision-making.
 The DNC Hack Is Watergate, but Worse by Franklin Foer 

Of course Trump's ill-considered response, in an unbelievable (for normal people) act of sedition called for Russia to hack Hillary Clinton. That stupidity aside, the article explains in great detail why this incident should not be trivialized.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A simple challenge

If you're one of the people who would normally vote Republican but are, rightfully, afraid of the fascist nightmare that is Donald Trump and his candidacy, but who won't vote for Hillary Clinton because you hate her, I have a challenge for you.

This week is the Democratic convention. Unlike the Republican convention which was filled with wall to wall lies and fearmongering to scare you while offering up no actual policies, the DNC will outline plenty of actual ideas to help America through tough times.

My challenge to you is this:

Just watch some of the convention and LISTEN to what the Democrats are saying.

Put aside 25 years of conservative witch-hunting of Hillary Clinton; ignore the conspiracy theories regarding Vince Foster, Benghazi and the nothing burger that was the e-mail "scandal". Ignore the fascist idea of "lock her up" because she's the leader of the opposition. Just put those out of your mind for one evening and LISTEN to what she's saying. Listen to her ideas, her proposals, her positions on the issues. Listen to what she wants to do. And ask yourself if those proposals would help you and other Americans.

And then weigh that against what Donald Trump is proposing. Rounding up millions of immigrants. Depriving tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance. Pulling the US out of NATO and the World Trade Organization. Reneging on NAFTA and other international agreements. Letting Russia run roughshod over the Baltic countries. Restoring "order" while ignoring the protections of the Constitution.

This is an important election. I get that people are angry. But do you really want a narcissistic fascist with no respect for the Constitution and no knowledge of actual policies in charge? And no, I'm not talking about Clinton.

That's my challenge. Watch and listen. The contrast from the Republicans will be stark and absolutely clear and you might just find that you agree with many of her positions, from civil rights to gun control to the economy.

And isn't that someone you should vote for?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Good shows, proud parents, and our crazy Friday

For the last couple of weekends, my daughter Rachel has been performing in DC's Capital Fringe Festival in a production of How to Give Birth to a Rabbit. Rabbit tells the story of Mary Toft, who in the 18th century perpetrated the hoax of giving birth to rabbits (and other rodents) to an amazed England.  Rachel plays Mary.

The production is a song cycle, meaning there's no real dialogue, just songs, on a spare stage with the band on one side. We saw it last weekend and really enjoyed it. It's definitely "fringe" theater, but it was a fun experience. Rabbit runs for one more show, tomorrow night (July 24) at 6PM.

Here are some reviews of the show. Two good and one not so good, and a publicity link on the local NBC affiliate.

DC Metro Theater Arts
DC Theater Scene

Last night, Rachel started a second show, 99 - A Rock Opera, playing at the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre. 99 is about the 2011 Occupy Movement in Cleveland. Rachel again plays a character named Mary, this one the wife of a guy who gets involved in the movement.

The music was really good and the performers all excellent. There was a little trouble with the sound balance, but this was also a fun experience, with some of the audience (including us) on lawn chairs in the middle of the action. 99 has two more shows this weekend and then plays three times next weekend.

Here's a good review that just came out along with a promotional article. Read the review until the very end!

DC Metro Theater Arts

So, what happened last night?

Rachel opened in 99 at 7PM in Silver Spring and had a performance of Rabbit in DC at 9:45PM. We knew this might be a problem, so we planned ahead.

Rachel and Carol (with Ben) drove separate cars to Silver Spring where I met them by Metro straight from work. Happily, 99 ended at around 8:15 which gave Rachel an hour to make a 9:15 call to Rabbit, a 20-30 minute drive. The plan had been for one of us to go with Rachel to drop her off at the theatre so she wouldn't have to find a parking spot in the ridiculously crowded H street NE area of DC. But since she had so much time, she decided to just drive by herself and we could go home. That all changed when we found a huge line of cars trying to get out of the parking garage.

Basically, it took us 20 minutes to get out of the stupid parking garage in Silver Spring. By this point, Rachel getting to DC and finding a parking space and making curtain was looking problematic. So while still in the garage, Carol got out and rode with Rachel. We then all drove to DC, Ben and I to find and hold a parking spot on the crowded street, and Carol to drop off Rachel and then take the parking spot so Rachel could drive home after the show.

It was a stressful ride because any DC traffic backups would definitely make Rachel late for her show. But we got there on time, and it all worked out.  Carol dropped Rachel off right around 9:35PM, and Rachel made it without them having to delay the curtain. Ben and I found a space reasonably close and after some comedic back and forth with Carol, she eventually found us and we gave Rachel's car the space.

The one downside is that I didn't slow down enough when exiting off the BW Parkway onto Benning Road and got nailed by a traffic camera. I am awaiting the amount of my ticket with huge trepidation.

If you're in the area and you'd like to see either show, here are the remaining times.

How to Give Birth to a Rabbit - Sunday, July 24, 6:00 PM,
                                                  Atlas Performing Arts Center

99 - A Rock Opera - Saturday July 23, 7:00PM,
                                   Sunday July 24, 1:00PM,
                                   Friday July 29, 7:00PM,
                                   Saturday July 30, 7:00PM,
                                   Sunday July 31, 1:00 PM.
                                   Silver Spring Black Box Theatre.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Please let the door hit you in the nads on the way out

Horrible human being and serial harasser, Roger Ailes, was "fired" from FOX News today. He'll have to comfort himself with an extended consulting contract and a $60 million golden parachute.

Murdoch’s comment did not address the obvious — that Ailes is resigning in the midst of not just Carlson’s allegations but similar claims from many other women, reportedly including multi-million-dollar-earning Fox star Megyn Kelly — but instead noted Ailes’ “remarkable contribution to our company and our country.” Link

Let's make this really clear.  Roger Ailes was a cancer on our country. Few people in American history have done as much damage to our political system, our political and civil discourse, and our ability to come together as a nation. Ailes is the asshole who unleashed Hannity and O'Reilly on us. Ailes was a terrible, terrible influence on a large segment of Americans and history will judge him as a monster.

Good riddance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Numbers Stations

For the last one hundred years, intelligence agencies from many nations have broadcast numerical codes over shortwave radio to their spies around the world. The receivers of these broadcasts remain anonymous because anyone in the world can hear the transmission, so there's no way to localize the actual recipient. Presumably the recipients can decode the numbers. The stations sending these broadcasts are called Number Stations.

I was unaware of the existence of these stations until today. Clearly the creators of Lost were aware of them, as the broadcast of a series of numbers plays a huge part in the series.

Check out some of the weird broadcasts here:  The Conet Project. I especially recommend # 28 on the list.

I love stuff like this.

Who you gonna call?

I saw the new Ghostbusters movie over the weekend and enjoyed it.

The thing I love about the original Ghostbusters is the Cthulhu vibe. There's a slight creepiness and scariness underneath the comedy and the combination works really well. The 2016 Ghostbusters didn't have that vibe and so didn't register with me as strongly. But the movie was so joyous in a lot of ways that it still worked.

I especially loved Leslie Jones who was just all kinds of enthusiastic and fun. She does a great job portraying someone completely likable. Meanwhile, Kate McKinnon's quirky weirdness elevated every scene she was in. Honestly, I can't tell you a lot about McKinnon's character, but I loved her. I'm pretty sure I'd watch an entire movie just about Holtzmann.

There were a ton of cameos and callbacks, some of which were better than others, but they definitely made the new crew feel welcome in the Ghostbusters universe.

A few months ago I proclaimed my love for the cheesy Yahoo! TV show, Other Space, which was produced by the director of Ghostbusters, Paul Feig. Awesomely, nearly the entire cast of Other Space, was in the film (some very hard to spot) and one of them, Neil Casey, was the main villain! Cool! He seems to be coming in to a successful career and I am really happy for him.

I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Everyone should have seen this coming

Doesn't it seem rather obvious at this point that Trump would naturally have been drawn to the Vice Presidential candidate whose last name is a value of money?

I mean, Christie? What would possibly have drawn him to that name?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Not color-blind

I get that plenty of Americans don’t like Obama and think he is a failed president. But the charge that he’s divisive, even racist, says more about the people making it than it does Obama. Those who make that accusation either are not listening to his words, or cannot hear them, because they are blinded not by his rhetoric, but by his skin color.

  The Boston Globe’s Michael Cohen

Friggin' A!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

White supremacists love Trump

The expectation that some whites have for Donald Trump isn’t hard to identify. From overt statements about Mexican judges, building a massive wall, and blocking immigration, to the traditional keywords of Republican candidates—law and order, inner cities, urban problems—when making not-so-oblique references to repressing blacks, Trump has given whites every indication that they are his only constituency. 

The whole theme of the Trump campaign is easily to interpret as a call to restore a sort of American Apartheid—Jim Crow 2.0—in which blacks, immigrants, and Jews just better watch it. It’s no wonder that white supremacists are optimistic about a Trump presidency. And it’s also no wonder that Trump’s name has become a mantra for those giving a not so subtle “just you wait.”

All across America, when racists get into confrontations with minorities, the racists now chant Trump's name. As a taunt and as a threat. 

Translation Assistance

In case you don't know, let me help you out with something.

Every time a Conservative uses the word "thug" to describe a black American:
"We don't have time for all that petty, punk-ass little thuggery stuff that's been going on with these 'protesters,' who are doing nothing but wasting your time and trying to take away your First Amendment rights," she said. "And the media being on the thugs' side -- what the heck are you guys thinking, media?" Sarah Palin
The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!  Donald Trump
It's time 4 patriotic Americans to stand up & stand against all the Cop haters - from Obama to the thugs on the street.  Joe Walsh
You just gotta be who you are, and I think it's time to get rid of this whole National Basketball Association. Call it the TBA, the Thug Basketball Association, and stop calling them teams. Call 'em gangs.  Rush Limbaugh

 Yeah, he means Nigger.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Are you thinking about voting for Donald Trump? Then let me ask you something.

What do you like about Donald?

Is it his misogyny?

Is it his defrauding thousands of Trump University students out of millions of dollars?

Is it his multiple bankruptcies, where he emerged unscathed but his investors and creditors were ruined?

Is it his lack of basic knowledge about any of the important issues facing our country or the world?

Is it his racism?

Is it the thousands of lawsuits he's involved in?

Is it his "say anything to win" attitude?

Is it the Trump Institute where thousands more were defrauded out of their money?

Is it his denial of climate change?

Is it that he's a bully?

Just what is it that you like about this man? Which of these qualities is "Presidential" to you? Which of these qualities suggests that he cares about Americans and making things better? Which of these qualities will lead him to deal well with our allies and enemies? Which of these qualities makes you think he'll be a good, successful President?

I really want to know.

I'm One!

Pretty good (and short) video.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

There is more to your philosophy . . .

Huzzah! Creationist Ken Ham has finally finished his "Noah's Ark" attraction in Kentucky.
Ham said the massive ark, based on the tale of a man who got an end-of-the-world warning from God about a massive flood, will stand as proof that the stories of the Bible are true. The group invited media and thousands of supporters for a preview Tuesday, the first glimpse inside the giant, mostly wood structure.

What's amazing is that, like Noah, Ham built it himself with only his sons helping. Plus, he used only the ancient building techniques and materials that would have been available thousands of years ago.


Oh, actually this $100 million building was created using modern construction techniques, some concrete and steel, and hundreds of skilled construction workers. Well, I'm sure Noah would have used those too if they had been around.

But Ham's right. The fact that he could build this structure -- again, with $100 million, hundreds of skilled workers, concrete and steel, and modern construction techniques -- proves that the Bible is true.

The other good news is that I've been absolutely inspired by this because of all the other books I now know are true!

Harry Potter!

 Star Wars!

My favorite, Star Trek!

And, of course, The Simpsons.

Thanks, Ken Ham! Now that I know all these fictional constructs are 100% true, I can finally stop looking to that musty old Bible for inspiration.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Big "E" lives!

I first saw the original model of the starship Enterprise in the Air & Space Museum decades ago. I don't remember exactly when but it would have been the mid nineteen-eighties. The ship used to hang in the entrance to one of the exhibit halls near the east end of the Museum. It hung above your head as you entered, as if soaring over, but you couldn't get very near to see the details.

Then, years later, in the mid 1990s after displaying it in Air & Space's incredibly successful Star Trek exhibit, they renovated the model (I actually know the modeler who did the renovation) and re-exhibited it in the Museum gift shop. It wasn't a very noble place for a grand lady, but you could get pretty close and see a lot of the details.

A couple of years ago, they decided to renovate it again, restoring it to its original glory, getting all the colors right, replacing the badly inaccurate deflector dish, and even putting in some LED lights to simulate the way it was originally lit. Last week the Big E was unveiled in the newly remodeled main exhibit hall, a much more appropriate venue. This afternoon I paid her a visit.

She looks glorious. Unfortunately, for some reason the spinning nacelle lights, the new feature I was most looking forward to, weren't turned on. I guess I'll just have to go visit again.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Please take this advice

Dear Donald Trump,

When you're Tweeting images created by White Supremacy groups, there's a really good chance that those images are either racist or anti-semitic.  Like 100%.  If you want people to stop criticizing you for being racist and anti-semitic, a good way to start would be to stop Tweeting those images.

Your're welcome.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Maybe Zombie Scalia would get multiple votes in a Trump administration

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court threw out a Texas statute placing ridiculous, burdensome, unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics, specifically to drive them out of business. Conservatives were outraged of course, but rather than a 4-4 tie, which has often been the case due to the split, 8 person Supreme Court, the vote was 5 to 3.

Weirdly, the best, most handsome Republican ever, Donald Trump, whose uncertain commitment to pro-life causes has surely given many Evangelicals sleepless nights, was mysteriously silent about the decision.

Until today.
“Now if we had—Scalia was living, or if Scalia was replaced by me, you wouldn’t have had that, OK? It would’ve been the opposite,” Trump said of the ruling, which struck down a restrictive Texas abortion law.  Link

Now you may notice a couple of things. First, Trump doesn't say anything specific about the case. (That really is pretty much all he said.) It seems pretty clear that he doesn't know enough about the case to even throw out the standard Republican anti-abortion talking points.

Second, hypothesizing a live Scalia at this point is meaningless. He's been dead for months. While you're at it, wish for a pony.

And finally, if Scalia were still alive, well, let's do the numbers, shall we?

5 Justices declared the law Unconstitutional.
3 Justices were fine with the law.

I think we can safely say that Scalia would have been fine with any law that restricted women's rights.

So . . . 3 + 1 = 4 votes for the law, which is greater than the 5 votes against the law!

Wait a minute.

Oh yeah, Trump is an idiot. And not only an idiot, he also can't add.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Same old Ipecac, a slightly different look!

If you're not reading this post via News Reader, you may notice that I've changed up the look of the blog. The old format was set before my very first post and never changed. This limited my ability to even tweak the look, because the layout was static. I couldn't change the screen width or the default font (or pretty much anything). Given that the amount of screen size has vastly increased for most people, I wanted to take up a bit more real estate and increase the size of the font. Since this format is dynamic, I can tweak it all I want.

Anyway, this is still a work in progress. Feel free to make comments or suggestions in the comments.

Brexit analysis

Brockman has it right.

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Today, Great Britain votes on whether or not to leave the European Union. They don't really have a good reason to do so and the economic consequences will likely be severe. Since the movement to leave seems to be motivated by the same right wing, nationalistic nonsense that's captured so many Americans, I really hope they stay in the EU. That crap needs to stop. 

We're all stronger together than apart. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Forever War (revisited)

Around 35 years ago, give or take, I read Joe Haldeman's classic science fiction novel, The Forever War. I was in junior high or high school at the time, within a decade of the book's initial release in 1974. Until this week, I didn't remember much about the story other than it's similar to Heinlein's Starship Troopers, it involves time dilation from traveling near the speed of light (the protagonist is a soldier who fights aliens on distant worlds while time passes much more quickly for those back on Earth), and it bothered young me that on his return to Earth, the protagonist finds gender lines blurred and men wearing (gasp!) makeup. That's pretty much everything I remembered about the book.

I'd been looking for something to read on my Kindle for a few weeks, so when The Forever War went on sale for $1.99 last week, I snatched it up (metaphorically and digitally).

I'm about forty percent done (see, I have a Kindle, which reports the percentage completed as you read) and I'm loving it. It's really well written and has a great classic age of science fiction vibe skewed by the post-Vietnam era in which it was written. Hilariously, the story starts in the year 1997 where Earth has a presence throughout the solar system and colonies in other star systems, so it's a little off target. In the preface, Haldeman says he set it in the near future because he wanted his future soldiers to also be Vietnam veterans, but admits that, yeah, his take on our future was a little off.

If you haven't read it, I can recommend it and I'm not even done yet. I'm remembering a few more details as I work through it, but for the most part, it feels like the first time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


We saw Finding Dory today and then went for sushi. We felt guilty.