Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Planet Earth II

The BBC recently released 10 hours of bonus video from the Earth II series. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Leonard Pitts

45 is wrecking this country as fast as he can. And it appears the Dems, while in the minority, have no one with the guts or brains to take him on.

Let’s not be shy about why Trump is president

by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
So here we are, six months later. How time has trudged.
But the calendar does not lie. On Thursday, we will be half a year through the Trump Era. And, contrary to his signature promise, America seems less great by the day. Nor are his other promises faring particularly well.
There is no sign of progress on that border wall, much less any idea how he is going to make Mexico pay for the thing. His promise to preserve Medicaid and provide health care for everyone has dissolved into a GOP bill that would gut Medicaid and rob millions of their access to health care.
Meantime, the guy who once said he would be working so hard he would seldom leave the White House spends more time on golf courses than a groundskeeper.
But for all that Trump has not achieved, there is, I think, one thing he indisputably has. He has taught us to live in a state of perpetual chaos and continuous crisis. Six months later, the White House commands the same horrified attention as a car wreck or a house fire.
In that sense, last week’s revelation that the Trump campaign, in the person of Donald Trump Jr., did in fact meet with a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin to influence the 2016 election was just another Tuesday. Sure, it might have been shocking from the Bush or Obama campaigns. But under Trump, we live in a state of routine calamity.
Besides which, a few days from now, there will be something else. With Trump, there inevitably is. Things can always get worse — and usually do.
And when they do, we can count on the GOP, that inexhaustible fount of righteous outrage, to stand tall and courageously look the other way. For almost 20 years, the party has never seen a minor episode (“Travelgate”), a sheer nothing (Whitewater) or even an international tragedy (Benghazi) it could not turn into Watergate II. Yet, as credible accusations of treason, obstruction, collusion, and corruption swirl about this White House, the GOP has been conspicuous in its acquiescent silence. It seems the elephant has laryngitis.
But the rest of us can’t stop talking.
Indeed, from the studios of CNN to the bar stools of your neighborhood watering hole, amateur psychoanalysis has become America’s favorite pastime in the last six months. Dozens of theories have been floated, all aimed at answering one question:
What is wrong with him?
But I have come to believe that question misses the point. Sixty-three million people voted for this. And make no mistake, they knew what they were getting. It was always obvious that Trump was a not-ready-for-prime-time candidate, but they chose him anyway. And the rest of us need to finally come to grips with the reason why.
It wasn’t economic anxiety. As a study co-sponsored by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic reported in May, people who were worried for their jobs voted for Hillary Clinton. But people who dislike Mexicans and Muslims, people who oppose same-sex marriage, people mortally offended at a White House occupied by a black guy with a funny name, they voted for Trump.
That’s the reality, and it’s time we quit dancing around it.
This has been said a million times: Donald Trump is a lying, narcissistic, manifestly incompetent child man who is as dumb as a sack of mackerel. But he is the president of the United States because 63 million people preferred that to facing inevitable cultural change. So I am done asking — or caring — what’s wrong with him. Six months in, it’s time we grappled a far more important question.

What in the world is wrong with us?

Monday, July 17, 2017

Poetry Out Loud

Ever wish to hear poetry recited? Sometimes I get tired of reading, news, or music and like to listen to poems. Poetry Out Loud fills the bill.

Another site for classic poetry is Podomatic.

There are surely more.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

be a shrimper!

Thanks to the general chaos injected into the immigration issue by #45 and his malicious minions, the local shrimp boats are having a hard time finding enough workers. Mexicans who have been coming to Texas for years to work on the shrimp boats are not coming over this year, kept back by all the uncertainty and a reduction in the number of temporary work visas being granted. Damn 45 is going to double the prices on shrimp!

The shrimp boats owners are panicking, as shrimp season is expected to re-open within a few weeks. They are even advertising for shrimpers. Do you want to spend 30-60 days at sea catching shrimp? As usual, these are the jobs that most Americans don't want. But there are Mexicans willing, but not being allowed to.

Mail resumes to: Employer: PURATA TRAWLERS INC 
Contact: Mari or Pedro Purata 
Address: 25470 Ted Hunt Rd Los Fresnos, Texas 78566 
Telephone number: 956-456-9688 
Or email resumes to: 

Work will be performed aboard a commercial shrimp boat up to sixty (60) days in the Gulf of Mexico’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ-federal waters). 

Job requires worker to prepare boat for fishing activities; putting nets into water and retrieving them; sorting and heading of catch; return undesirable and illegal catch to sea; place shrimp in baskets, rinse, dip in preservatives; cleaning boat, storing, preserving and offloading of catch; help rigger as needed and get nets back into water to resume trawling and retrieve them again. 

Assist captain and rigger as required; mop deck as needed or required. 

Worker is required to carry and at times continue to lift an average of sixty (60) pounds or more of headed shrimp to/from the boat’s freezer. 

Pays $14.41 per hour, $21.62 overtime or a range of $15.00 per box (100# headed shrimp) whichever is greater. Overtime, if applicable will be available to the worker at a rate of $21.62. 

Contact your local employment office for guidance regarding hourly pay. 

Worker will be paid every two weeks or according to the prevailing practice in the area of intended employment whichever is more frequent. 

Employer will use a single work week as its standard for wages due. 

The employer will make all deductions from the worker’s paycheck required by law. 

Employer will deduct any and all advances requested by the worker and which are not required by law and will be included in crew settlement sheet provided to each worker at the time worker is paid. 
Each worker will be paid on a trip basis, upon completion of work, completion of trip or until shrimp production is sold or every two weeks whichever is more frequent. 

Employer ensures that the wage offer (including H2B workers) equals or exceeds the highest of the prevailing wage or the Federal, State or local minimum wage to other employees with similar experience and qualifications for such positions in the same location. 

Education minimum required: none 

Applicants must have one month (30 days) of continuous experience on a shrimp boat as a deckhand/header. Work days will depend on weather and/or catch per drag. 

Weather conditions could affect the working days while out at sea and trip could be shortened due to unforeseen circumstances. 

Usual work schedule is 8:00 pm to 4:00 am, but may vary depending on amount of catch per drag. 

Worker may experience lack of sleep and tiredness at times especially during the opening of the Texas Coast on or about July 15, 2017. 

Worker is guaranteed employment for at least two-thirds of fishing season. 

Working conditions may include excessive heat and or cold, rainy days and cold weather on deck. 

Employer will provide to the worker, without charge or deposit charge, all tools, supplies and equipment to perform the duties assigned. 

Employer provides food and lodging on the shrimp boat free of charge. 

Employer will reimburse worker for the initial transportation to the job site once the worker completes 50 percent of the work contract period. 

Employer will provide or pay the worker’s cost of return transportation and daily subsistence from the place of employment from which the worker, disregarding intervening employment, departed to work for the employer, if the worker completes the certified period of employment or is dismissed from employment for any reason by the employer before the end of the period. 

Employer will reimburse related costs associated with employment at the end of the first full trip. Amount for transportation will be calculated using the most economical common carrier. 

Subsistence costs will be paid to workers that complete their contract or are dismissed early by the employer, except when the employer has appropriately reported a worker’s voluntary abandonment of employment. 

Employer will reimburse the H2B worker in the first workweek for all visa, visa processing, border crossing and other related fees, including those mandated by the government, incurred by the H2B worker (but need not include passport expenses or other charges primarily for the benefit of the worker) subsistence is calculated at a minimum of $12.09 and up to a maximum of $51.00 per 24-hour period of travel to/from the place of employment with receipts. 

Apply or inquire about the job opportunities or send applications and/or resumes directly to the nearest office of the Texas State Workforce Agency, 851 Old Alice Road, Brownsville, Texas 78521. Phone number 956-546-3141 

Workers needed from 05/01/2017 through 02/01/2018 

Job Posting Tx#6564525 
Ad paid by an Equal Opportunity Employer 

Two (2) workers positions available

Are you ready for a new adventure? Not me. Not this one. Here's a short video that demonstrates how shrimp boats work, somewhat.

Friday, July 14, 2017

we deserve better

No telling where this insane Trump saga is going to end.

This country deserves much better than Trump
by Eugene Robinson
It’s exhausting, I know, but don’t let outrage fatigue numb you to the moral bankruptcy and gross incompetence of the Trump administration. This ugly departure from American norms and values must be opposed with sustained passion — and with the knowledge that things will probably get worse before they get better.
Heaven help us, look where we are. We have a president — commander in chief of the armed forces, ostensibly the leader of the free world — whose every word is suspect. President Trump is an inveterate liar. He dismisses provable facts as “fake news” and invents faux facts of his own that bear no relationship to the truth. He simply cannot be trusted.
We have a president whose North Star is naked self-interest, not the good of the country. Trump cares about his family, his company and little else. He dishonors the high office he holds, then reportedly spends hours each day railing against cable-news coverage that he finds insufficiently respectful. His ego is a kind of psychic black hole that devours all who come into its orbit.
We have a president whose eldest son, son-in-law and campaign chairman met with emissaries purportedly sent by the Russian government to deliver dirt on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. Trump claimed on Twitter that “most politicians” would have gone to such a meeting, which is another lie. Try to find politicians who say they would have attended.
We have a president who fired the director of the FBI for continuing to investigate “this Russia thing” — a sophisticated effort by the Russian government, according to U.S. intelligence officials, to tip the election in Trump’s favor. Will he also try to fire special counsel Robert S. Mueller III? If he does, will Congress let him get away with it?
We have a president — was he made in Russia? — who has declared this to be “Made in America” week, despite the fact that so many of the retail products that bear his name or that of his daughter Ivanka are made in Mexico, China, Indonesia and Bangladesh. When asked about this irony by Politico, a White House spokeswoman responded, “We’ll get back to you on that.” They won’t.
Trump has broken his promise to help the struggling middle class. After pledging health insurance “for everybody,” he supported legislation that would strip more than 20 million people of coverage. His approval rating, according to a new Post-ABC News poll, has fallen to 36 percent — a historic low for a president at this point in his tenure. Yet Trump continues to enjoy strong support from self-identified Republicans, whose resentment against liberal “elites” he plays like a violin.
His administration is in shambles. Members of his inner circle snipe at one another via anonymous quotes to reporters. They compete for the president’s favor not by doing their jobs well but by showing a willingness to defend anything he says and does, no matter how ridiculous. In the space of a week, his surrogates went from “the campaign had no meetings with Russians” to “there was a meeting but no collusion” to “collusion is not actually a crime.” One wonders how they sleep at night.
Trump presents the world with something new: In place of American leadership, there is a vacuum. In keeping with the pattern set at the Group of 20 summit, adversaries will try to use Trump’s ignorance to their advantage while allies try to nudge him into doing the right thing. The “madman theory” of foreign relations can only be employed effectively by a leader who is actually steadfast and serious; Trump is neither.
There is no point in looking to Republicans for salvation. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) still hope to get Trump to sign into law massive cuts in taxes and entitlements. Many rank-and-file members fear Trump’s loyal support among the base. The former “party of Lincoln” has adopted the moral code of the Oakland Raiders’ late owner Al Davis: “Just win, baby.”
So that is what Democrats and independents have to do — win. As long as there are pro-Trump majorities in the House and Senate, there will be no real congressional oversight and no brake on an out-of-control president’s excesses. Incumbency and gerrymandered districts mean that winning anti-Trump majorities in 2018 will be difficult. But not impossible.
The Democratic Party needs a plan, a message and a sense of urgency. Trump hopes to bully critics into submission, but the country is bigger than this one president. And much better.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

skydive O'ahu!

When I looked at the calendar back in April, I realized that I would be in Hawaii on vacation over my birthday. That seemed like a perfectly good time to finally fulfill a wish I'd had over the last several years: to skydive! Heck, if old man Bush can do it multiple times, so could I.

Sure enough, there was an outfit on O'ahu called Pacific Skydiving, and it wasn't too far from where we would be staying on the North Shore of O'ahu. CLICK. I signed up for a jump on my birthday. For a first-time jumper, Pacific insists on a tandem jump. That is, you are harnessed to an experienced jumper for your first jump. (And second jump. You can jump solo on your third jump). Your tandem partner pulls the parachute cord and navigates down to the landing zone.

There was no advance paperwork to complete, so on my birthday I arrived at the site for my jump. You have to watch a 15-minute film about all the risks of skydiving and sign papers claiming that, yeah, I acknowledge that I could die or get seriously hurt doing this, and if I DO die or get hurt, neither I nor anyone else in my family would hold Pacific Skydiving responsible, etc, etc.

Yeah, yeah, as expected.

But then I came across a spot on the form where I was supposed to state that I was not currently taking any medications for anything, and if I WAS taking any medications, my doctor had OK'd my skydiving anyway.

I guess I should have realized that they would ask these questions but I hadn't. I wish they had fucking told me about it in advance. I take some meds, and I had not talked to my doctor about skydiving. 

I realized that I could easily lie on the form and say I was either not taking any meds, or I could lie and say my doctor was OK with it. But I didn't want to lie. I do tell little white lies now and then (who doesn't?) but I didn't want to lie about this, and so I postponed the jump until Monday. I'm sure everyone on vacation with me was thinking I was just using this as an excuse not to jump. Fuck 'em.

I tried to reach my doctor while still at the facility but couldn't. Because of the time change between Hawaii and Texas (5 hours - because Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time), the doctors office had just closed. He'd probably say OK anyway, but I didn't want to jump before touching base with him. Come Monday morning, I called my doc again and he OK'd my jump, as long as my blood pressure had been good. And it has been good. Moving to South Padre Island (or retiring in general) has been beneficial to my blood pressure. 

So I finished the pre-jump forms and got the OK to jump. They have a large waiting area where you wait to get called to get suited up with the harness. My tandem-mate was Chrissy, a French-born daredevil. I opted for the videographer, and her name was Kelly. The whole suit-up time takes only about 10 minutes, and before I knew it, we were being herded out onto the runway to meet the plane that would take us up. 

One complaint here. Chrissy had my goggles in her hand and said she would put them on me just before we jumped. Well, ok. Turns out she ended up tightening them so much my glasses were smushed against my face. It was too tight, but it was also too loud to complain about it. If you go, insist that you try on your goggles BEFORE you board the plane. 

And it's a tiny plane. Single engine. Modified for skydiving. We taxied down the runway to the far end, turned around, and the pilot gunned it. Fucking LOUD as shit! And nothing to hold onto!

It took only about 15 minutes to reach our jumping altitude of 14,000 feet. 

This is about as high as you can go before you need an oxygen mask to jump. And it was cold as shit up there. There are no real doors on the sides of the plane, so the cold air was rushing over us. Felt pretty good, actually.

Before I knew it, Chrissy was nudging me towards the door. It's kinda hard to move when you are strapped tight to someone, but we made it.

Hanging on tight, she pushed us out the door, and yikes! 

Immediately we started to tumble, backwards, but just chill out! 

Chrissy quickly released the guide chute, which allows the jumpers to right themselves, to an extent. 

My left eye was pretty smooshed and I can't say I saw a lot of stuff during the freefall. We were promised about 60 seconds of freefall, and Kelly navigated up close to us for some pictures.

At one point, she held out her hand to me and I took it, but we started spinning, so I let that shit go. Fuck you! I ain't ready for spinning!

The freefall was pretty cool. I might get used to that kind of feeling, but soon enough, Chrissy held three fingers in front of me, then two, then one, and then, whoosh, she pulled our main parachute and Kelly continued to plummet on at high speed. She would pull her chute further down and land before us so she could take pictures of our landing.

When the chute opened, it felt great. No more plunging downward, now we were floating.

Chrissy said something about needing to navigate towards the landing zone, and she pulled one of the main chute cords and we went into a fast swirling downward. Wild swings back and forth, feeling totally out of control.

After just a couple more of these maneuvers, I began to feel queasy. I told her I thought I might hurl, but she had to do a few more swings down towards the earth to get to the right spot for landing. After one tight curl, I turned my head to the right and hurled. I wondered about the homes below us that were growing larger and what kinds of things might occasionally rain down upon them. Haha!

We finally landed. I pulled up my legs horizontal to the ground as instructed, came to a non-jarring stop and immediately got on all fours to throw up a couple more times. Kelly didn't bother to record that. I guess I'm glad, but it obscures the truth, and I don't think that's good. I'm not proud of getting sick but as I hear it, I'm certainly not the first.

I loved the thrill of the jump and the freefall. The main chute portion and swinging wildly to navigate was pretty much sheer hell. If I could be guaranteed that the main chute portion of the jump would not be so violent in its swings, I would skydive again. Hey! I see they have an outfit that skydives over South Padre Island!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bush nostalgia?

Damn, our memories are short.  #45 is so bad a lot of people seem to be pining for the likes of George W. Bush. It's rather amazing that the GOP keeps producing worse and worse candidates. We didn't think it could get much worse than Bush, but woah, #45 exceeds all of those low, low expectations.

Enough with the George W. Bush nostalgia

A popular Business Insider article suggests that "everyone misses George W. Bush." Here's why you shouldn't

by Charlie May
Business Insider ran a surprisingly popular article last week titled “39 photos that show why everyone misses George W. Bush.” “Bush appears to be having a new moment in the American imagination,” Business Insider wrote. “The 43rd president has shown off his softer, folksier side since leaving office, reminding everyone why they liked him in the first place — and even miss him a little bit now.
It apparently doesn’t take long for political amnesia to settle in, perhaps because much of American politics are not much more than PR games. President Donald Trump’s unabashed rhetoric has dominated headlines on a daily basis for two years. This has made it easy for Americans to forget that even when things may have felt “normal,” they weren’t.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush used the tragedy to justify almost every foreign policy decision he made. By September 18, Bush had signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which sailed through Congress near-unanimously. The law granted the sitting president the discretion to use “necessary and appropriate force” against whomever he or she deemed “planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
Ultimately, the law became a focal point in American politics, and helped establish the foundation for what foreign policy has looked like over the course of the last 16 years. In 2016, former President Barack Obama dropped at least 26,171 total bombs across seven majority-Muslim countries that Congress never formally declared war on.
Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, countries the U.S. is still heavily involved in right now, as global ramifications for such decisions persist. The war in Afghanistan is raging once more and the Taliban now holds or contests more territory than it had held prior to the invasion. The war has no end in sight.
The Islamic State, as it’s currently known, would not have risen to power the way it had if Iraq were never invaded by the US. “There would be no ISIS if we had not invaded Iraq,” said David Kilcullen, former State Department employee and senior counter-insurgency advisor. The invasion of Iraq has caused the deaths of upwards of one million Iraqis who have died in conflict.
Let’s not forget the warrantless domestic surveillance, initiated by the National Security Agency under Bush, as well as the horrors that took place at the hands of the Central Intelligence Agency in torture prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. The Bush administration sold torture to the American public as “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
But the failures and abuses of power at the hands of the Bush administration don’t end there. Private military contractors such as Blackwater (now rebranded as Academi),  once enlisted in the war on terror, were deployed in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina — and profited off the disaster, something not uncommon in American politics.
And I haven’t even gotten to the financial crash in 2008, for which at least partial blame can be laid at the feet of Bush and his pro-deregulation cronies.
So, who is “everyone” and why should the 43rd president be missed?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pussy Riot

Didn't the last member of Pussy Riot just get out of jail? Yeah, I guess I can see why the GOP now loves Russia; all that authoritarian bliss (and loot! This too could be yours!!)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Religious Antagonist

This is not a new video. It was created back in 2012. But I didn't see it then, so it's new to me. And I have to say, it's very inspirational. 

Friday, July 7, 2017


What's the first word that I think of when I think of Trump? traitor

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?

A new poll from Quinnipiac University on recent Trump antics shows exactly what you’d expect. It contained a quick breakdown of his approval ratings — down to a whopping near-record negative 36 – 58 percent —  and a round up of people’s feelings on honesty (61 – 33 percent say he’s not), his leadership skills (56 – 41 percent say he doesn’t have them) and whether or not he’s level-headed (66 – 29 percent say he can’t).
But honestly, it’s a question nestled in the middle of the poll, in a scroll-and-you'll-miss-it spot that takes the cake.
Question nine of the poll asks the question: “What is the first word that comes to mind when you think of Donald Trump?”
39 people said: “Idiot.”
And it just gets worse from there. The second most named word? “Incompetent.” In third place? “Liar.”
Some other crowd favorites down the list were “disaster,” “bigot,” “narcissist,” “racist” and my personal favorite, “buffoon.”
Of the 46 words listed (the only words listed were ones that were mentioned over 5 separate times), only four were clearly positive — “good” “great,” “smart” and “strong.” All of the others were negative, or didn’t lean one way or the other (“president” and “American” don’t really tell us how you feel do they?)
By a 54-38 margin, American voters want the Democratic Party to win control of the U.S. House of Representatives, the report says. The poll is reflective of the fact that voters tend to dislike the Democratic party less than the Republican party.
“There is no way to spin or sugarcoat these sagging numbers,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
“The erosion of white men, white voters without college degrees and independent voters, the declaration by voters that President Donald Trump’s first 100 days were mainly a failure and deepening concerns about Trump’s honesty, intelligence and level headedness are red flags that the administration simply can’t brush away,” he added.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Eugene Robinson

There will not be true peace on earth until we have banished the demons and dragons of religion to the dustbin of history.

Trump’s dangerous thirst for a clash of civilizations

by Eugene Robinson
“A little learning is a dangerous thing,” wrote the poet Alexander Pope. Three centuries later, Pope’s aphorism perfectly — and dangerously — describes President Trump’s understanding of history as a zero-sum clash of civilizations in which “the West” can triumph by imposing its will.
The speech Trump delivered Thursday in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square might have been appropriate when Britannia ruled the waves and Europe’s great powers held dominion over “lesser” peoples around the globe. It had nothing useful to say about today’s interconnected world in which goods, people and ideas have contempt for borders.
“The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” the president said. “Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”
Trump added what he probably thought of as a Churchillian flourish: “I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail. Our people will thrive. And our civilization will triumph.”
Triumph over whom? Trump mentioned “radical Islamic terrorism” as one of the enemies posing “dire threats to our security and to our way of life,” but he didn’t stop there. He went on to add Russia and — weirdly — “the steady creep of government bureaucracy” to the list. It is appalling that the president would describe patriotic public servants as a kind of fifth column that “drains the vitality and wealth of the people,” and I guess some precious bodily fluids as well.
But what does Trump mean when he speaks of “the West” and its civilization? “Americans, Poles and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” he said. “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are. . . . We write symphonies. We pursue innovation. We celebrate our ancient heroes, embrace our timeless traditions and customs, and always seek to explore and discover brand-new frontiers.”
That’s what I mean about a little learning. If the president read a few history books, he’d know that for most of the past 2,000 years, China and India were the world’s leading economic powers and Europe was a relatively primitive backwater. He’d know that Europe rose to dominance not by erecting walls but by opening itself to the rest of the world — its resources, products and people.
There is nothing pure about Western civilization. Its ability to absorb and incorporate outside influences has proved a great strength, not a weakness. Imagine Italy without tomato sauce, a gift from the New World — or the United States without the high-tech companies founded by immigrants, gifts from the Old.
Of course Trump is right to call for a united front against terrorism. But the solution, in a globalized world, cannot be to hunker behind walls, however big and beautiful those walls might be. Industrial supply chains cross borders and span oceans. Words and images flash around the globe at the speed of light. Global issues, such as nuclear proliferation and climate change, demand global solutions. Like it or not, we are all in this together.
The correct response to the terrorism threat, which is real, is to isolate it as an abomination that is as much a grievous insult to Islam as to any other faith — and that has taken the lives of far more Muslims than non-Muslims. The wrong response is to posit that “the West” is besieged by, and therefore at war with, a hostile civilization. That’s a fight in which everyone loses.
Trump did finally make clear that the United States remains fully committed to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which states that an attack on one member of the alliance is tantamount to an attack on all. He was tougher on Russia than in the past, and he cited “propaganda, financial crimes and cyberwarfare” as “new forms of aggression” that must be countered.
But viewing the fight against terrorism as some kind of civilizational Armageddon is wrong. Trump seems to view himself as the West’s defender against 1.6 billion Muslims, almost all of whom want only to live in peace. We need a capable president, not a crusader in chief.

Read more from Eugene Robinson’s archive, follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his updates on Facebook. You can also join him Tuesdays at 1 p.m. for a live Q&A.
Original, but I feel compelled to add that Muslims, IMHO, are just as wrong-headed, if not moreso, than Christians. Both start from a faulty premise and try to impose much of it on the world. Both teachings are faulty, even dangerous. Most Muslims and Christians surely do want peace, but both also expect most of society to conform to their views, and to grant them special favors. Fuck that. It's too late.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bishop Museum

On our recent trip to Hawaii, we visited the Bishop Museum, a repository of Hawaiian history and science in the historic Kalihi district of Honolulu. It's officially called the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, the Hawai'i State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

The main building is Hawaiian Hall.

Sadly, there was not enough time to see everything in the museum, as often happens. Fish played a big role in ancient Hawaiian culture, as you might expect.

I was struck by the stark disparity between the intricate description of all of the ancient Hawaiian gods in the Hawaiian Hall and the detailed scientific information in the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center just across the well-manicured lawn.

Ancient Hawaii had its own pantheon of gods, like most primitive cultures on earth did. While it is mildly interesting, to me, it's just another version of primitive ignorance. The ancient Hawaiians were probably not stupid, just ignorant of nature and science.
they did amazing things
 with Koa wood

Then again, the Hawaiians pride themselves on their relationship to nature and all living things. This is a good thing.

It is understandable that ancient civilizations attributed events that they did not understand, like erupting volcanoes, to a god-like entity. But at some point, we must realize they were simply superstitions and move on. I don't think we really learn that much about current-day Hawaiians by analyzing their ancient superstitious beliefs.

Over here in the Hawaiian Hall is what people used to believe about nature. Over here in the Science Adventure Center are facts about nature. Good contrast.

One other interesting contrast I picked up is the fact that women played large roles in Hawaiian society. It wasn't until those "enlightened", "civilized", Europeans stumbled along that women were subjugated to inferior roles in society. It has taken us a long time to correct that error.
inside the Science
Adventure Center

Still, it was enjoyable to explore the Bishop Museum. I love museums, and a museum in a tropical paradise, even better.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Independence Day

I, for one, took no special pride or pleasure in celebrating Independence Day, July 4, this year. Our government has been taken over by a batch of no-nothings that seem intent on destroying our democracy. They are consciously, but mindlessly, reversing everything that President Obama tried to put in place.

We are being "led" by a narcissistic autocrat who seems to have never even read the Constitution. He slams the media endlessly with crude unPresidential remarks. He hasn't even bothered to fill hundreds of government posts, perhaps to better mask what he is up to. They seem intent on taking health insurance away from millions of citizens. 

This year, I feel no pride in the United States of America. I feel only shame. And that shame and disgust was intensified when we learned that NPR started tweeting the Declaration of Independence, and a bunch of 45 supporters took it as fomenting revolution against 45. 

Ignorance is running deep in America today, and it goes all the way to the top.

Some Trump supporters thought NPR tweeted 'propaganda'. It was the Declaration of Independence.

For about 20 minutes Tuesday, NPR traveled back to 1776.
To echo its 29-year on-air tradition, the public radio network’s main Twitter account tweeted out the Declaration of Independence, line by line.
There — in 113 consecutive posts, in 140-character increments — was the text of the treasured founding document of the United States, from its soaring opening to its searing indictments of King George III’s “absolute tyranny” to its very last signature.
Who could have taken issue with such a patriotic exercisedone in honor of the nation’s birthday?
Quite a few people, it turned out.
Perhaps it was the Founding Fathers’ capitalization of random words or the sentence fragments into which some of the Declaration’s most recognizable lines were broken. But plenty of Twitter users reacted angrily to the thread, accusing NPR of spamming them — or, worse, trying to push an agenda.
“Seriously, this is the dumbest idea I have ever seen on twitter,” a Twitter user named Darren Mills said after NPR had only gotten as far as the Declaration’s dateline. “Literally no one is going to read 5000 tweets about this trash.”
more absurd BS here.