I Miss The Good Old Days Of…

Just a few years ago, if you had told me, “You’ll choose not be friends with someone because of their politics,” I would have absolutely disagreed.

Pass on a friendship because of politics?

No way would I do that.

But – I did that.

Jane and I had worked for the same company, different departments, for several years.  When we saw each other in the hall or lunchroom we’d chat, mostly about work.  I enjoyed Jane’s sense of humor and her take on company politics.

Jane moved on to another company, but before she left, she invited me to lunch.  I thought it could be fun, so we set a date.

And our lunch was fun.

Until Jane brought up politics:

“Did you hear what those dumbass Democrats did?”

I kept quiet as she then recounted the latest offensive things the “dumbass Democrats” said about Trump, the bills they were wasting their time passing in the House because Mitch McConnel (“Thank God for him!”) would never bring them to the floor, and sang the praises of Lindsay Graham (“Brilliant!”).

All of which I disagreed with.  Vehemently – but internally.

I was resolved to “disagree without being disagreeable.”  I thought Jane and I had a potential for friendship, and in the future we could just agree to disagree.

Right?

Then she said, “I wish people would just leave Trump alone to do his job.”

Well.

To say I loathe Trump would be putting it mildly.

And I was struggling with the hard evidence that Jane actually believed what Trump says, and lauds what he does.

Jane was an intelligent woman, after all.

I said, “You don’t think Russia interfered in the 2016 election?”

“No way.”

“Trump and Ukraine?”

“The Democrats failed in their first witch hunt and impeachment will fail, too.”

I paused, realizing I was about to put the last nail in the coffin of this potential friendship.

“And the 24 women who’ve accused Trump of sexual assault?”

“Thy’re lying.”

All of them?” I said.

All of them.”

Now Jane had a question of her own:

“What do you think of Trump?”

In my calmest tone I told her.  Jane’s eyes grew wider as I used the words “psychopath,” “narcissist” and “misogynist.”

We sat in silence for a moment, then moved onto other topics.

But not for long.  We split the bill, said good-bye, and before I’d even arrived at my car, I knew I wouldn’t see Jane again.

And I knew Jane felt the same way.

I just couldn’t respect a Trump supporter – and I believe respect is a critical part of any friendship, any relationship.

I’d passed on a friendship because of politics.

“Agree to disagree” doesn’t work anymore in a country as polarized as ours.

And it gets worse.

Because This Polarization Is Dividing Families, Too

My friend Deborah had been invited to lunch by her adult son.  Deborah had had run-ins with her son before about Trump – he’s a strong supporter and she’s exactly the opposite – and she’d realized that if they were going to have quality time together, it was best to not discuss politics.

They met for lunch and all was going well.  At some point Deborah started telling her son about a movie she’d seen – a good, safe topic, since they both loved movies.

The movie was Icebox, about the horrendous conditions that immigrant children are subjected to.  “But immigrants come here and break out laws,” her son insisted, “and deserve to be locked up.  What happens to their kids is their fault.”

“This was by far the worst run-in we’ve had,” she later said to me.  “He threw all kinds of things at me verbally, then got up and walked out of the restaurant.

“I thought I was just talking about a movie.”

This wouldn’t have happened three years ago.

Where does this leave Deborah and her son?

Where does this leave any of us?

Right where Trump wants us:

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I – we – have allowed Trump to divide and conquer us.

Thanksgiving 2019:  Now Trump’s “Divide and Conquer”
Has Divided My Family

My younger brothers have always been close, and probably closer than most:

They’re identical twins.

They not only look alike, they share many personality traits and preferences.

But over the years, one way they’ve differed is politics.

And over the past three years, that difference has become much more pronounced.

One brother is conservative.

One brother is liberal.

Conservative is single.

Liberal is married and has a stepdaughter.  His wife and stepdaughter are also liberals.

Liberal had invited Conservative for Thanksgiving and an overnight stay.  Conservative had gladly accepted, and offered to bring the pie.

The four sat down together for a beautiful dinner of turkey and all the trimmings.  “We turned off the TV,” Liberal told me later, “so we could talk and focus on each other.”

And everything went well.

Until someone mentioned Trump.

Voices were raised, then raised voices became shouting.  Conservative insisted, “Why can’t you see the good things Trump has done?”

The three liberals insisted just as strongly that Trump does no good at all.

What started so well had deteriorated into a Trump-divided-and-conquered disaster.

Deteriorated so badly that Conservative packed his things back into his overnight bag, and left.

The pie went uneaten.

Divided families.

Divided country.

And…

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Some Thanksgiving Options

Option #1:

If you’re undecided about where to have Thanksgiving dinner, Newsweek offered the above photo and this story about Denny’s $8-$18 options:

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And Newsweek wasn’t the only one.

Option #2:

A week before Thanksgiving the San Diego Union-Tribune ran this lengthy article:

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The article listed 40+ restaurants and assured us that if we hadn’t yet made our Thanksgiving dinner reservations:  “No problem.”

Here are a few of those restaurants and what you’ll pay on Thanksgiving:

Barleymash, San Diego; $45 per person.
Sea 180 Coastal Tavern, Imperial Beach; $59.95 per person.
Coasterra, San Diego; $64.95 per adult.
20|Twenty, Carlsbad; $89 per adult.
Morada, Rancho Santa Fe; $95 per adult.  And…

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Addison At Fairmont, San Diego; prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner, $235 per person.

I expect these restaurants will be very busy tomorrow.

And I think that’s great.

Option #3:

As I sit here on the day before Thanksgiving, another option occurs to me:  Places where many people will go, if they can find their way.Salvation Army

And perhaps some – just some – of the people going to Denny’s or Addison or any restaurant might spare a thought, and a few dollars – just a few – and donate money to a non-profit offering Thanksgiving meals.

The average cost to provide a free Thanksgiving meal is $2 to $2.50 per person at, for instance, the the Salvation Army.

Just a thought.

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Jared Kushner, Not Exactly “The Man Of A Thousand Faces,” Launches A New Career!

I have no doubt that Jared Kushner – son-in-law and advisor to Trump – has been of inestimable value during their White House tenure:

Trump_03 cropped“Daddy-Don, I think the blue and red striped tie today.”

“Daddy-Don, I think your hair needs a touch more Goldy-Gold, and let’s lift the front swoosh a bit.”

“Daddy-Don, the Orange #23 makeup is better than the Orange #25 for a daytime Rose Garden press conference.”

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Here’s Jared, thinking.

Yup, Kushner’s advice is priceless.

One recent day, Kushner was sitting in his plush office, debating the benefits of emphasizing “witch hunt” vs. “shame that shouldn’t be allowed” vs. “unconstitutional hoax” when an idea flashed across the dark void that passes for his brain:

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Here’s Jared, excited.

“I can suck up to Daddy-Don and launch yet another fabulously successful career at the same time!  I will be so successful that Daddy-Don will get re-elected, and I won’t have to think about getting a real job for another four years!

“We’ll set up cameras and stuff along the border to film the stupendous progress of Daddy-Don’s glorious border wall construction!

“Yeah, that’s it!  I’ll direct the first-ever building-the-border-wall action film, and we’ll do wide distribution on Fox News!  We’ll even livestream it!”

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There were objections, of course – but no great artist ever pushes the boundaries without some fuddy-duddies raising pesky objections.  Think of Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Picasso – they all faced objections and ignored them, and just like them, so is another great artist:  Kushner.

He’s ignoring pesky objections about filming from:

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Here’s Jared, ignoring.
  1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  2. U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

He’s ignoring pesky objections that broadcasting construction could:

  1. Reveal “proprietary techniques” to competitors.
  2. Cause outrage among Mexican officials if construction crews were seen straying south of the border.

So pesky!

Our Kushner pressed on, bravely continuing to push for his border wall livestream:

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Here’s Jared, aggressive.

Why, one senior White House official even described Kushner’s demands as “aggressive”!

Now Kushner – or J.K., and he now prefers to be called on the film set – has the opportunity to really hone his directorial skills.

As you can see from this 11/12/19 Washington Post image:

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Here’s Jared, doing the math.

The construction plan is for 166 miles to be completed in Texas before the end of 2020.

But less than four miles have been completed since 2017.

Let’s do the math.

That’s a rate of four miles in two years or two miles in one year.

At the rate of two miles per year, this stretch of construction will take 81 years – until…

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That gives Kushner – I mean, J.K. – lots of time to triumph in his new directorial career!

And that gives smugglers lots of time to practice cutting through that new wall with $100 saws from their local hardware store:

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Perhaps J.K. will meet some of those smugglers, and negotiate with them.  He is known for his great negotiating skills.

I can just hear him saying to the smugglers,

 ¿Te gustaría trabajar como extra en mi película?  (Would you like to work as extras on my movie?)

After all, J.K. has already demonstrated his negotiating skills – remember this?

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June 25, 2019:  Kushner and his Middle East Peace Plan.  Wait a minute – this guy is smiling.  Sort of.  Is he a Kushner look-alike?

Just look at these examples of J.K.’s negotiating success in bringing peace to the Middle East!

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So his negotiation skills will come in handy because guess what?

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Again, from the 11/12/19 Washington Post, Daddy-Don’s administration has only acquired four miles of the 162 miles of land needed to put the new border wall on!

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But no worries, because Daddy-Don has already paved the way, as it were, to acquiring the land:

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So now, with Daddy-Don’s approval, J.K. can just cruise up to the property owners’ homes, and tell the owners,

“Daddy-Don said to take as much of your land as we want to build his wall so he can get re-elected and I won’t have to think about getting a real job for another four years!”

I can just hear J.K. on the film set now, giving his best directorial directions:

U.S. workers are seen next to heavy machinery while working on the replacement of a border fence in El Paso, as seen from the Mexican side of the border in Ciudad Juarez
“Get a close-up of that guy in the white hardhat.  No, not that guy, THAT guy!  No!  No!  The OTHER guy in the white hardhat, you idiot!”
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“OK, guys, now that you’ve set up that one section of Daddy-Don’s glorious border wall – I want you to push it over for dramatic effect.  It will look great livestreaming on Fox News!”
convoy hells_angels
“Who, them?  Oh, those are just the owners of the land that Daddy-Don took, and their friends.”
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“What – Do I think they have guns?  Idiot, this is Texas – everybody has guns!”

Movie Review:  “Gone In A Gulp”

Broadcast date:  2017

Review, short version:  All thumbs up.

Review, long version:

“Honey, I’ve found our next vacation destination!”

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“Look!  It’s Shedao Island, off the coast of China, it’s not crowded, it has beaches and lots of hiking opportunities!”

“Sweetie, that all looks great, except for one thing.  Well, 20,000 things.”

“What do you mean?”

“That’s Snake Island.  And the only inhabitants are 20,000 venomous pit vipers.”

(Long pause)

“OK!  I’ll keep looking!”

But lucky me – I got to see Snake Island, thanks to the intrepid camera crews from NHNZ, movie larger croppedthe natural history unit of New Zealand media company Television New Zealand.

They came, they saw, and they filmed the island and the vipers – and so much more – for the documentary Big Pacific.

Big Pacific aired in 2017 on PBS, but I missed it the first time around.  When I recently learned it was being rebroadcast, I was SO ready for it.  I’m fascinated by our oceans, by how little we know and what scientists, divers and other explorers are constantly discovering.

I was amazed by what I watched – and by the risks taken in some cases, like Snake Island.

And by the masters of cinematography who went to I-lost-count-of-how-many locations, and captured gorgeous shots like this:

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The nomura jellyfish can grow up to 6½ feet in diameter and weigh over 400 pounds.

And this:

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Dugongs look like manatees, but they’re more closely related to the elephant.

And this:

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No ocean program would be complete without great white sharks – but will we see them mate?

Love that in-their-face imagery!

It’s a fact:  We know more about outer space than we know about what goes on in our oceans.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

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More than eighty percent unexplored!

But Big Pacific makes a glorious dent in our sea of ignorance with six+ hours of animals in and around the Pacific Ocean, in search of their next meal and/or next partner and/or next place to hide from predators.

They’re just living their lives, like these guys:

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Now you see him – now you don’t.  This longlure frogfish (left) almost disappears when he blends in with his surroundings.
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The blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth.  It presents a sleek 80-foot-long profile (left) until it takes in 12,000 gallons of water to filter out its food – tiny krill.
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Sea otters may look cute to us – but not to red urchins.  An adult sea otter can eat 1500 red urchins a day – about a third of the otter’s weight.

The narration of Big Pacific is fascinating and sometimes whimsical – like when they describe the ocean as a “liquid universe,” the eating habits of some residents as “gone in a gulp,” and the coastal fauna as a “cathedral of kelp.”

And so many species are featured – the fast and slow, the big and small, the ancient and the newly discovered, the male that turns into a female, and the female who mates – and TV New Zealandthen eats her partner.

“A true dinner date,” notes the narrator.

Here’s the PBS description of Big Pacific:

Episode 1:  Mysterious

Man has explored land, the ocean’s surface, and large parts of the solar system, and in the 21st century we are just beginning to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean.  We yearn to unravel the mysterious Pacific – but she does not give up her secrets willingly.

 Episode 2:  Violent 

Surrounded by the Ring of Fire, the Pacific Ocean is the epicenter of natural mayhem.  Violence is part of life in the Pacific and creatures that live here must choose whether to TV NZ_02 croppedavoid conflict or rise to meet it.

 Episode 3:  Voracious

There is plenty of food in the Pacific Ocean, but it is the challenge of finding that food that drives all life in the Pacific.  In the voracious Pacific we meet a destructive army of mouths, a killer with a hundred mouths and the biggest mouth in the ocean.

 Episode 4:  Passionate

In the Pacific, the quest to multiply has spawned a stunning array of unusual behaviors and adaptations.  There are forest penguins with a tenuous marriage, the secret rendezvous of great white sharks, and the tale of male pregnancy.

There’s also:

Episode 5: Behind the Scenes

Follow the adventures of the filmmakers behind Big Pacific.  This “Making Of” special explores the highlights and challenges of wildlife filmmaking.TV NZ-01

One last note.

Today it’s almost impossible to watch a nature show without hearing about the dangers threatening our environment, due to human impact including climate change.

There is some of that in Big Pacific, but it doesn’t drive the narrative.

The goal of Big Pacific is to “break the boundaries between land and sea, moving throughout the Pacific Ocean to present a broad range of locations, species, natural phenomena and behaviors.”

Goal:  Met.

And exceeded.

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This wolf eel looks like it’ s having a bad day, so divers, beware.  Wolf eels can grow up to eight feet in length and inflict bone-crushing bites.

 

While Democrats Win Big In VA – Republicans Storm A Room And Pop A Balloon

Here is what I see as an interesting confluence of recent events.

To get started we go back before that, to October 28, 2017.

To a story I completely missed, but sure have enjoyed since I learned about it.

Juli Briskman, then 50, was a single mother of two teens, living in Loudon County, VA,briskman_01 cropped about a 40-minute drive from Washington DC.  She worked for Akima, a government contractor.  She was not, in the words of Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak, “an activist, a protester, a radical or a meddler.”

On that October 28 around 3pm, Briskman was riding her bike, getting in her workout.  From behind her came a familiar sight:  a motorcade of black SUVs.

As area residents know, that’s how Trump travels.

He was returning from a round of golf at nearby Trump National Golf Club.

Catchy name, yes?

As the motorcade passed, Briskman raised her middle finger, and held the pose:

Julie Briskman October 2017

And repeated the gesture when she caught up to them in traffic.

A press photographer took pictures, posted them, and the image spread across social media.  Briskman went from low-key suburban mom to national attention, becoming “the woman on the bike who flipped off Trump.”

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Columnist Dvorak called it “the middle-finger salute seen around the world.”

Why did Briskman do it?

As the New York Times reported not long after, Briskman said her “blood started boiling” when Trump’s motorcade began to pass her.

“I just got angry.  I lifted my arm and started flipping him off.  I started thinking, You’re golfing again when there is so much going on right now.”

Briskman’s photo was embraced by Trump critics, including a local anti-Trump Facebook group.  On their page they asked, “Who is this?” and Briskman replied in the comments that she was the cyclist.

The image passed “viral” and went stratospheric.

I love this story.  I love what Briskman did.  She was in a once-in-a-lifetime moment – on her bike, being passed by Trump’s motorcade.  She could have just kept her head down, kept cycling and done nothing.

But she didn’t.thank you

Would I have done that?  Could I have done that?  Flipped off Trump?  And not just at Trump on TV – I do that often – but up close and personal?

I hope I would have.

I thank Briskman, for speaking for me and millions of Americans.

By October 30, Briskman had affixed the image on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Neither account identified her as an employee of Akima, but she gave a heads-up to an HR official at Akima, her government contractor employer.

On October 31 Briskman was called into a meeting with the HR official and two other company executives.

“We have chosen to separate from you,” Briskman quoted one of them as saying to her, citing the company’s social media policy ban on “obscene content.”

She said she was told that she was not meeting the company’s code of conduct and that the officials feared “it could hurt business” because of their work related to government contracts.

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Briskman was escorted from the building.

But…regrets?

None:

“I’d do it again,” she said.

When word got out, job offers flooded in.

Briskman’s story could have ended there.  But it didn’t.

It got better:

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And better:

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Briskman was one of many Democrats in Virginia who won in November – taking control of the legislature, and in her case, running as a Democrat for the Loudon County Board of Supervisors and defeating the Republican incumbent who’d held the post for eight years.

“It’s not like I can run against him,” she’d said, meaning Trump.  “But I can run.”

Again, according to Washington Post columnist Dvorak, Briskman said, “The last two years have been quite a ride.  Now we’re helping to flip Loudoun blue.”

If Briskman wants to continue using “ride” and “flip” references, that’s fine by me.

So:  Here we have a woman who never ran for office before, winning an election in campaign sign2019.  She ran a professional campaign, defeated a Republican, and looks forward to working on issues including paying teachers in Virginia a living wage, supporting paid family and medical leave for county staff, and compensating firefighters so that they can live in the communities they serve.

Then we have the group of so-called professional politicians who ran, this time for a locked door, in what can only be called a pointless political stunt, to garner media attention and appease their leader.

It was October 23, and there were impeachment hearings going on behind that locked door.  It was the door to the SCIF– Secure Compartmented Information Facility – an ultra-secure room used by congress for confidential business.

Around 30 Republicans had decided to storm the door, break into the room, and disrupt the hearings:

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I’m figuring Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led the charge, since he sent this tweet:

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I’m also figuring Gaetz tipped off the media.  The media was there, and the stunt got lots of attention:

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Including this post-charge photo of those Republicans, in which you’ll note that there is not a single woman visible:

Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary Arrives for Deposition

More than anything, it reminded me of a bunch of guys back in medieval times, storming a castle:

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If those medieval guys succeeded, they were the victors and took possession of the castle.

After the Republicans stormed the SCIF, all they did was order pizzas, and send out tweets about themselves, like this one:

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And this one:

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And this one:

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And delay an impeachment hearing that simply resumed later.

Mind you, there were already Republicans inside that room, participating in the impeachment hearings.

So now it’s like the guys storming the medieval castle, only the Republicans have guys on the inside, already:

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What’s up with that?

Couldn’t they have just waited until the hearing concluded, then the Republicans who were at the hearing could meet with the Republicans not at the hearing, and tell all, and then order pizzas and send out tweets about themselves?

So:  A first-time, non-professional politician runs as a Democrat and wins.  A bunch of professional politicians bust through a door and accomplish…?

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But then, on November 9, the pro-Trumpers really came up with a significant step.  Something so original, so awesome, so strategic – I’m humbled by the importance of it:

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And to show us how brilliant and brave he was, the guy who did the slashing…

Did this in front of police officers…

Who promptly caught him…

As he tried to run away!

The 20-foot-high inflatable balloon was one of several “Baby Trump” balloons that have become a staple of worldwide protest:

Balloon London england July 2018 850 balloon Buenos Aires Argentina November 2018
July 2018:  London, England November 2018:  Buenos Aires, Argentina
Balloon Paris France November 2018 850 Balloon-Los Angeles January 2019 850
November 2018:  Paris, France January 2019:  Los Angeles
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June 2019:  Dublin, Ireland September 2019:  Copenhagen, Denmark

The diaper-clad Trump is orange – of course – and holding a cell phone – of course.

The slashed Baby Trump balloon was part of an anti-Trump rally at an event held outside the Alabama-LSU football game in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on November 9.

Trump was attending the game rather than – oh, I don’t know.  Rather than reading,concept cropped instead of ignoring, the science on climate change?  Helping our veterans get better services?  Solving immigration?  Sorting out issues in the Middle East?  Addressing gun control issues?  Revealing his Obamacare replacement that he talks about but doesn’t exist?

The alleged balloon slasher, Hoyt Hutchinson, 32, was charged with felony first-degree hoyt hutchinson croppedcriminal mischief.  He was booked into the Tuscaloosa County Jail and held on a $2,500 bond.

Hutchinson had posted a Facebook Live video hours before the incident saying he was “going down [there] to make a scene…I’m fixin’ to pop this balloon, without a doubt.”

Little did Hutchinson know that he was also “fixin’ to” create the image of Trump we’ll see on November 3, 2020:

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Trump, crushed after November 3, 2020 elections.

Hutchinson was able to make bail and promptly called a syndicated radio program, the “Rick and Bubba Show.”  Bubba?  Perfect.  Among other things, Hutchinson told the radio station he “keeps up with politics by watching Fox News and his two favorite anchors, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity.”

Also perfect.

So, there’s my confluence of recent events:

November 9:  A pro-Trumper makes a gesture and commits a felony; definitely a…

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October 23:  A group of Republicans make a gesture, making themselves look like even bigger…

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November 5:  A woman makes a gesture, is motivated to run as a Democrat for her first election, and…

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Geography 101 For A Moron

In a display of his “great and unmatched wisdom,” on November 15 Trump tweeted this about Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch:

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I didn’t find myself wondering why Trump did this, because he is – to borrow from Rex Tillerson – a moron.

I did find myself wondering if Trump even knows where Somalia is.

So I showed Trump a world map and asked him to point to Somalia:

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I said, “No, Somalia is actually in Africa, the continent behind you.”

Then I created a geography quiz, based on Yovanovitch’s 33 years in public service and Trump’s “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad.”

Does Trump know “everywhere” she went?

Of course not.

So, in chronological order – yes, Yovanovitch was stationed in Somalia early in her career in the 1980s, but her first foreign assignment was in Ottawa.

I asked Mr. Great-and-Unmatched-Wisdom to point to Ottawa on the map:

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“No, Ottawa is in Canada.  Remember, our ‘neighbors to the north’?

“Yovanovitch’s next foreign service was in Moscow, and I’ll bet you know where Moscow is, right?  Where your best friend Putin lives, right?”

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“Well, you’re pointing in the right direction, at least.  Sort of.

“After Moscow, Yovanovitch served in London.  I know you know where London is because you’ve been there, remember?  You met the Queen?  Go ahead and point to London”:

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“Well, London is on an island.  However, it’s not that island.

“You probably didn’t know that Yovanovitch’s next site of service was Ukraine, where she was Deputy Chief of Mission from 2001 to 2004.

“But for sure you know where Ukraine is, because you had that perfect phone call with Ukraine’s president.  So let’s zoom in to make it easy for you to point to Ukraine”:

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“Actually, you’re pointing at Crimea, which your friend Putin illegally annexed in 2014.”

Moving on!

“Let’s stay zoomed in, but this time I’ll make it really easy for you.  Yovanovitch’s next two assignments were as U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan and U.S. Ambassador to Armenia.  See if you can point to EITHER ONE of those”:

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“No, that’s Turkey.  You’re pals with that dictator as well, remember?  Armenia is on Turkey’s northern border – can you see that?  And Kyrgyzstan is to the far right and – oh, never mind.

“Yovanovitch’s next foreign assignment returned her to Ukraine in 2016 as the U.S. Ambassador.  Since you already flunked Ukraine, I won’t test on this.

“Which leaves you at 0/7.

“So…I’m curious.

“When you were in college busy dodging the draft, did you ever study geography?”

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“A Breeze To Put Together” 

Water has only two ingredients:  hydrogen and oxygen.

A diamond has only one ingredient:  carbon.

But this “breeze to put together” Cold Spicy Kimchee Noodles soup has 23 ingredients:

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Twenty-three?

Oh, sure.  It looks good.

And according to the recipe’s author, it tastes good – he says it’s “refreshingly and unapologetically hot and spicy, and perfect for lunch or dinner.”

“Unapologetically”?

You don’t think tempting me with yet another picture, this one a close-up:

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And then telling me I must go to not one, but two stores – the regular grocery store and a Korean grocery, because “it’s more fun to see all the different types of kimchee…”

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The gochujang is on the left.  No, wait –it’s on the right.  No, wait…

And spend eons chopping, peeling, cutting, slivering, slicing, toasting, boiling, and draining…

And being careful not to confuse the gochujang with the gochugaru…

And then dividing, topping and squeezing…

And you’re saying this soup recipe is “too easy, almost…”

You don’t think you owe me an apology?

I know I’m not what you’d call “adept” in the kitchen.  And that I make the people on The Worst Cooks in America look like pros.  And that the last time I made spaghetti…

Kitchen-Disasters- cropped

But I really want that Cold Spicy Kimchee Noodles soup.

Maybe I can find a restaurant that delivers it.

While I was researching that, I came across this recipe for Chicken Francese, which looked much more my speed:

Chicken_01

“Luxurious buttery lemon sauce turns meat from bland to grand!” says the headline, as though they were announcing world peace.

The recipe had far fewer ingredients than the soup, and three I could eliminate right away – the salt and pepper, which I prefer to add when I’m eating, and the parsley, which is just for looks.

Then there’s both olive oil and vegetable oil – surely I can use just one, not both?

And since I’m using lemon juice in the sauce, I don’t need those lemon slices, too, do I?

And, oh – I’ve got some chicken drumsticks in the freezer, I could use those instead of cutlets.  Chicken is chicken, right?

And the half cup of white wine in the sauce – I’ll have to buy a bottle, and I’ll just finish the rest while I’m cooking.

woman wine_02 cropped

I wonder why my Chicken Francese didn’t turn out like the picture?

Oh, well.

Who’s ready for dessert?

Oatmeal cropped.jpg

Book Review: “The Flatshare” Falls Flat

bookPublication date:  May 2019

Review, short version:  Four roses for him, four skunks for her.

Review, long version:

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary presented me with a conundrum:

To finish, or not to finish?

To finish:  I really liked the lead male character, Leon.  He’s a palliative care nurse working at a hospice.  He’s kind and sensitive and considerate.  And he’s on quests to help two people simply because he cares about them so much.

Not to finish:  I really disliked the female lead.  First, her name was “Tiffy.”  And second…

trashy_02
Ah…Tiffy’s been decorating again.

Well, I really didn’t need a second reason.  An adult woman choosing to go by the name of “Tiffy” was reason enough.

But there were plenty of other reasons to dislike Tiffy.

(OMG, I don’t even like typing her name.)

The story starts with Tiffy in desperate need of a place to live.  She and boyfriend Justin had been living together, but he dumped her.

But not yesterday or last week – he dumped her three months earlier.  But she’s still living at his place, even though Justin is now engaged to someone else.

bag lady cropped
Ah…Tiffy’s got a new outfit.

And she owes him three months back rent.  The word “parasite” comes to mind.

Tiffy is self-centered, and clueless about social boundaries.  She dresses in Bag Lady Chic (yes, there really is such a thing), I guess to demonstrate her free spirit.

Tiffy on Tiffy:

“That’s what I’m thinking, and that’s what comes out of my mouth.”  (I don’t consider a lack of self-censorship admirable.)

“I am very good at not thinking about things, though, so I’ve just…resolutely not thought about it.”

“This rush of doing something ridiculously spontaneous – the total aliveness of whirling yourself off-plan and shutting up all the bit of your brain that tell you why this isn’t a sensible idea…God, I’ve missed this.”

The last was promptly followed by Tiffy running into the ocean, spraining her ankle and nearly drowning.

flatshare cropped croppedThe premise of The Flatshare has possibilities – Leon is looking for a flatmate, and Tiffy is looking for a place she can afford.  He works nights and is away weekends, while she works days.  So, though they’d be living in the same space and sleeping in the same bed, their paths never need cross.

They start to leave each other notes, which, as time passes, become more personal.

The book’s point of view switches between Tiffy and Leon, both first-person narrators, and when the focus was Leon, I got very caught up in his story – the depth of his caring for his hospice patients, his worry about and love for his brother Richie, his backstory.

As for Tiffy…O’Leary introduces the plot device of Tiffy having been severely emotionallySilhouette of man and woman yelling at each other abused by Justin, and after she moves out, his abuse – now combined with stalking – continues.  And while those circumstances brought on my sympathy, it was too late for me to like her.

After the final chapter, there’s a two-year-later Epilogue with Leon at his best and Tiffy still…Tiffy.

But – as if they’d simply vanished – there’s no mention of Richie, or Justin, or two other important characters, Mr. Prior and Johnny White.  Important story lines but no resolution.

Perhaps O’Leary will write a sequel where they all end up living together, and call it…

The Houseshare:

houseshare

Yes:  I Feel Sorry For Katie Hill

Until recently, Katie Hill was a new member of the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating Republican incumbent Steve Knight in November 2018 as part of the Democrats’ “blue wave.”

She represented California’s 25th District:

25mort

From January 1, 2019 until her resignation at the end of October:

NY Times (2)

Whatever important things Hill did during her time in office, nothing garnered attention like the headlines that began in mid-October:

B (2)

Unfortunately.

Stories like this began appearing after the website RedState.com, described as a “conservative political blog,” posted stories about Hill with nude photos, private texts, and headlines that included Bisexual Rep. Katie Hill Allegedly Left Her Husband For Her (Male) Legislative Director and, CA Rep. Katie Hill Allegedly Involved Female Staffer In 2-Yr ‘Throuple’ Relationship.

I haven’t read past those headlines, nor will I.

Another member of the U.S. Congress behaving badly?

yawn cropped fixed

Hill denied the affair with the (male) legislative director, Graham Kelly.  He’s a House employee and a relationship with him would be a violation of House rules.

She did not deny the relationship with the campaign (female) staff member.

After the RedState.com stories appeared, Hill talked about “the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation.”

Hill and her husband of nine years, Kenny Heslep, are in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

Knight cropped
Knight lost to hill in November 2018.

As for her reference to “hateful political operatives,” on October 31 the Los Angeles Times stated that “The main authors of the articles were former campaign advisors to Steve Knight, the Republican congressman ousted by Hill a year ago.”

Knight denied having anything to do with anything, and didn’t respond to requests for interviews.

Heslep, who in September had told a podcaster that he was ready to talk publicly about his split with Hill, now wasn’t responding to requests for interviews.  According to his parents, Heslep claimed his computer had been hacked just before the images of Hill were published.

LDN-L-ELX-CONGRESS25-HILL-1107
Good times:  Congressional candidate Hill speaks during her election night watch party, November 2018.

Events moved quickly.  The House had adopted rules last year that bar members of Congress from having sexual relationships with subordinates – as Hill was accused of having with Kelly – and the House Ethics Committee began an investigation.

Hill admitted to a consensual relationship with the female campaign aide, but continued to deny a relationship with Kelly.

Hill decided to resign.  Again, according to the Los Angeles Times, Hill advised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that she planned to step down, but Pelosi urged her to say and fight, at least for a while longer.

Hill did:

“I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” she said in a statement addressing the ethics inquiry.  “I am disgusted that my opponents would seek to exploit such a private matter for political gain.  This coordinated effort to try to destroy me and the people close to me is despicable and will not succeed.”

But the effort did succeed.  Because they – the people who revealed the stories along with Hill’s photos and texts – succeeded.

In her resignation speech on October 31 Hill said, in part,

“Yes, I am stepping down, but I refuse to let this experience scare off other women who dare to take risks, who dare to step into this light, who dare to be powerful.  The way to overcome this setback is for women to keep showing up, to keep running for office, to keep stepping up as leaders.  Because the more we show up, the less power they have.”

She also said,

final speech October 31 cropped
Bad times:  Hill delivers her final speech to the House, October 31, 2019.

“I am leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality, and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.  I am leaving because of the thousands of vile, threatening emails, texts and calls that made me fear for my life and the lives of the people I care about.”

And, at the end,

“So today as my last vote, I voted on impeachment proceedings, not just because of corruption, obstruction of justice, or gross misconduct but because of the deepest abuse of power – including the abuse of power of women.

“Today as my final act I voted to move forward with the impeachment of Donald Trump on behalf of the women of the United States of America.”

I think it’s worth pausing to think about what Hill did.

ethics committeeShe was being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for a possible sexual relationship with a subordinate, which she denied.  Nothing was proven or resolved before her resignation.

She’d had a consensual sexual relationship with a campaign staff member, which she admitted.  That staffer may have been involved in a “throuple” with Hill and Heslep.

She’d posed for photos with and without that campaign staff member, and in some of them, Hill was nude.

She’d allegedly posted those photos, nude and otherwise, on an online site several years ago.

So far, none of this is illegal.

What it is – is dumb.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Hill forgot the #1 rule in our online world:

Once in cyberspace – always in cyberspace.

She had to know that posting nude photos of herself online, and of herself and the female campaign staffer, was leaving her vulnerable to future exposure.  She ran for and won a political office, knowing those photos were out there, just waiting to be revealed by someone.

Heslep cropped
Heslep, the whiny husband.

Someone – perhaps the unemployed, vindictive husband she was divorcing, who had to borrow money from his parents to hire a divorce lawyer, and whined, “I am not looking for anything excessive, she is still fighting even basic spousal support.”

Someone – perhaps the vindictive Republican opponent whom she soundly defeated in 2018, capturing the last Republican-held U.S. House seat anchored in Los Angeles County.

Hill also forgot the #1 rule in our political world:

Do what you want, but don’t get caught.

Forgetting these two rules were Katie Hill’s only “crimes.”

And lest we forget, misconduct – sexual and otherwise – by politicians has been around as long as politicians have been around.  Here’s a by-no-means-complete list of members of Congress who recently got caught:

Kihuen larger USE Representative Ruben Kihuen (D-NV) was investigated by the House Ethics Committee amid allegations of sexual harassment.  He completed his term and chose not to run for re-election.
conyers smaller Representative John Conyers (D-MI) resigned after paying a sexual harassment settlement to a former staffer.
Franks USE Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned after multiple reports of inappropriate behavior toward female staffers.
franken smaller Senator Al Franken (D-MN) resigned after eight women accuse him of sexual misconduct.
farenthold larger Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) resigned after news broke that he had settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with $84,000 of taxpayer money.
meehan smaller Representative Pat Meehan (R-PA) announced his resignation following reports that he used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment complaint with a former aide.
barton cropped Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) acknowledged he both took and emailed nude photos of himself, then decided not to seek re-election after the photos were leaked.
murphy smaller Representative Timothy Murphy (R-PA), married and an outspoken opponent of abortion, resigned when he was revealed to have strongly encouraged his mistress to get an abortion.
hunter smaller Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA) is charged with misuse of campaign funds, including financing romantic flings with lobbyists and congressional aides.  His trial is set for January 2020.
collins smaller Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) was never charged with sexual misconduct, but rather accused of, and plead guilty to, insider trading charges.  He’s scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 17.

My point?

Not all members of Congress resign when they’re caught.  Some go through an investigation and are exonerated.  Some are not.  Some finish out their terms, some don’t.

Some are still members of Congress.

Hill could have stayed, and continued serving.

But the exploitation of Hill’s sexuality  (she was the first openly bisexual member of the House), the supposedly “pornographic” photos, and the systematic, organized destruction of her professional and personal lives overwhelmed her.  She was, understandably, afraid of more photos being released, more personal information revealed, more pain.

And her enemies were too strong, and totally committed to bringing Hill’s House seat back into the Republican fold.

I find it perfectly ironic that the among the first people to announce their candidacy for Hill’s seat is not Knight, her former opponent, but rather George Papadopoulos, Trump’s former campaign adviser and a convicted felon:

Daily beast 1 (2)

According to the October 29 Daily Beast,

“Former foreign policy advisor to President Trump and author George Papadopoulos is now running to put California’s 25th Congressional District seat back in Republican hands,” reads a statement on Papadopoulos’ newly minted campaign website.  “Help fight back against Democrat corruption by joining George’s campaign today!”

Perfect:  A Republican convicted felon fighting back “against Democrat corruption.”

The Hill story aftermath?

Hill has already been added to the online Congressional Misconduct Database, and Wikipedia’s list of Federal Political Sex Scandals in the United States.

fade10483217 croppedShe’ll be grist for the media mill for another week or two, then fade from the headlines.

Hill’s name will appear in stories during the Papadopoulos and other campaigns to fill her House seat, with many of those stories continuing to emphasize words like “bisexual” and “throuple” and/or “nude photos.”

For now, Hill is out of office, out of work, and I assume out of the home she shared with Heslep.

She will, at some point, start picking up the pieces of her life, and her life will go on.

So yes – I feel sorry for Katie Hill.

Daily Beast 2 (2)

Just as I felt sorry for another woman named Hill who, 28 years ago, was also disrespected by men, battered by the media, and left to pick up the pieces of her life.

And I feel sorry about how little things have changed.

US law professor Anita Hill takes oath, 12 October anita hill hearing judiciary
1991:  Anita Hill at the Clarence Thomas hearings, and several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Committee’s questions to Hill included “Are you a scorned woman?”

Trump Hates Being Laughed At So…Let’s Keep Laughing

In late October and into November, California was once again being ravaged by wildfires.

And once again, Trump was being his usual ignorant self:

Trump (2)

I think the November 3 San Francisco Chronicle did a fine job of refuting this.  The words in bold are my emphasis:

Trump’s tweets have consistently failed to note that more than half of forested land in California is under federal control.  Experts also note that forest management is just one of many factors that can affect wildfires’ severity.

Many of the blazes that have devastated California since 2017 have been brushsf-chronicle-logo cropped fires, not forest fires, and many ran through large swaths of private land, including the Camp Fire.

Newsom’s office pointed out Sunday that the governor suspended permitting and regulatory requirements in March to speed wildfire fuel-reduction work in 35 high-hazard areas.

At the same time, it said, Trump proposed a $40 million cut in the hazardous-fuels reduction budget for the U.S. Forest Service, which manages much of the federal government’s forests.

Trump’s above tweet not only displayed his usual ignorance, but also his usual inaccurate self – he can’t even quote himself correctly.

trump_california_wildfires_94817_c0-89-3000-1838_s885x516
November 2018:  Newsom (left) and Brown flank Trump.  They were so glad to see Trump…leave.

What he “told” then-Lieutenant Governor Newsom “from the first day” they met was NOT that “he must ‘clean’ his forest floors.”

It was back in November 2018, and Trump visited an area in California devastated by a wildfire.

During that visit Trump told Newsom and then-Governor Jerry Brown how the people of Finland prevents wildfires in their forests:

“They spend a lot of time raking.”

This supposedly from a conversation Trump had had with Finland’s president, Sauli Niinistö.

Niinistö Trump pressi2
“That’s the guy!  Niinistö!  He said they rake!”

When asked, Niinistö said that he and Trump did discuss the California wildfires when they’d met the previous weekend in Paris, and he’d told Trump that “we take care of our forests.”

But nothing about “raking.”

The people of Finland promptly showed that though they were a small (population around 5.5 million) country, they had a big sense of humor.

And because I thought the Finn’s posts were so damn funny, I wanted to revisit the posts as a reminder that Trump HATES being laughed at – so let’s keep laughing.

We need laughter now, more than ever:

Rake_08
rake_02
Rake_05
rake_04
rake_03
Rake_09
rake_01
Rake_10
Rake_07
rake

And this, more recent, same topic:

NY Times Headline (2)

NY Times (2)

I’m pleased to give Governor Newsom the last word — his November 3, 2019 response to Trump’s ignorant tweet:

Newsom (2)

The Numbers Are In:  When It Comes To Halloween…

Dark Knight cropped
Complete Dark Knight-Inspired Costume:  $2,499.99.

And at Halloween, nobody excesses like we Americans.

It’s an opportunity for adults to don costumes and extreme makeup, and pretend to be someone else for a night.

It’s an opportunity for kids to don costumes and maybe makeup, and pretend they won’t gorge themselves on candy throughout the night.

It’s an opportunity for Americans to spend almost $9 billion and make retailers very, very happy.

It’s Halloween.

At the risk of being a party pooper…

I think we could rethink the whole Halloween thing.

Not do away with it – I know Halloween is fun for a lot of people, and fun is a good thing.

But when I learned what Americans just spent on Halloween, it was so over-the-top, it stunned me:

Table (2)

Almost $9 billion.

For this:

halloween party_01 smaller

And this:

halloween pet_01 larger

And this:

halloween candy smaller.jpg

And that $9 billion?

That’s more than twice what we gave to charities in 2018:

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And the number of charities that are closing is increasing – from 2017 to 2018, charity closures increased by 27%.

Yes, there are a number of reasons why charities close – perhaps their mission was accomplished, or they became outdated, or they did something illegal.shelter closed

But when a homeless shelter, or a battered women’s shelter, or an animal shelter closes due to lack of funding…

I find that very sad.

No, I’m not suggesting we cancel Halloween, take that $9 billion and give it all to charity.

But maybe next year, just maybe, we could do just one thing differently.

Just one.

Maybe next year, instead of spending that entire $2.6 billion on candy, what if we did something good for our communities, and then handed out these cards to the trick-or-treaters?

Halloween (2)

Before you thumbs-down the idea, stop and think:

Are parents going to get angry because you didn’t:cavities_01

  • Contribute to their kids’ sugar rush?
  • Contribute to their kids’ potential dental problems?
  • Contribute to their kids’ potential weight issues?

I think not.

And if the trick-or-treaters get mad because you gave to a charity on their behalf…

Perhaps the parents will have the “Priorities” talk with their kids.

While we’re at it, why not one of these as a stocking stuffer?

scan0001 (2).jpg

Why not?

And who knows?

Maybe you’ll start something that spreads.

Maybe you’ll be a trend setter.

trends cropped

Why Are We Still Changing Our Clocks?

Do you remember back in 2018 when –

What did you say?

Oh, you’re not really awake yet?

clock shoot_01 croppedYeah, me neither.  We changed our clocks yesterday due to damn Daylight Saving Time.

That time change scrambles up everybody’s sleep for awhile.

And that’s why, back in November 2018, we Californians voted to do away with the twice-a-year clock changing and all that “Spring Forward/Fall Back” stuff.

We voted on Proposition 7, and a clear majority of us – 60 percent – said, “Let’s stop this clock-changing crap.”

That was a year ago.

So why are we still doing the clock-changing crap?

Here’s one reason:

Kansen_chu
California Assemblyman Kansen Chu, Democrat, 25th District.  More about him shortly.

Here’s the process:

For Proposition 7 to become a reality, a law must be passed by two-thirds of the California legislature.

For two-thirds of the California legislature to pass a law, there must be a law to pass.

That law took the form of Assembly Bill 7, or AB-7, introduced by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, a Democrat who represents California’s 25th Assembly District:

25th District (2)

Chu introduced the bill on December 3, 2018.

It’s been languishing in the legislature ever since.

Languishing, like 19th-century woman on her fainting couch, in need of smelling salts to revive her:

fainting-woman cropped

AB-7 reads, in part,

Existing state law sets the standard time for California and sets Daylight Saving Time to begin each March and end each November.  Existing law allows the state to set the standard time to year-round Daylight Saving Time if federal law authorizes the state to do so.

Existing federal law does not currently allow a state to set its standard time to year-round Daylight Saving Time.

This bill would set California’s standard time to year-round Daylight Saving Time after the federal government authorizes the state to do so, as specified.

So the passage of AB-7 would only happen if the California Legislature passed it by two-thirds and then federal government authorized it.

Strange but true – back in March, Trump said something I agreed with:

Trump Tweet (2)

Me, agreeing with Trump?fainting-woman cropped

Bring me the fainting couch!

So it appears that the federal government would authorize AB-7, and in California we could forget about changing our clocks and trying to adjust our twice-a-year sorry asses.

But…AB-7 isn’t going anywhere, and it appears the reason is none other than…

California Assemblyman Kansen Chu.

The guy who introduced AB-7 in the first place.

In September Chu announced that he was making a two-year bill out of AB-7.  Chu said he made the call because he wants to further consult his constituents:

“As this is an issue that impacts all Californians, I want to take the next few months to ask my constituents their thoughts on permanent Daylight Saving Time vs. permanent Standard Time,” he said in a statement.

Wait.  What?

AB-7 was very clear:

“This bill would set California’s standard time
to year-round Daylight Saving Time.

Now Chu wants to cruise around the 25th District and ask people if they want permanent Daylight Saving Time or permanent Standard Time?French

While he’s at it, is he going to “ask his constituents” if they want French fries or onion rings with that?

Says Chu,

“It is important to me that my constituents are heard, and putting a pause on moving the bill will give me the opportunity to do more outreach.”

Assemblyman Chu, your constituents have already been “heard.”

They didn’t hesitate.  They didn’t prevaricate.  They didn’t obfuscate.

In November 2018, your constituents were some of the seven million+ voters who said yes to Proposition 7.

In fact, if you look at this map of the Proposition 7 votes by county:

By county (2)

You’ll see that your 25th District voted solidly green – in favor of Proposition 7.

Proposition 7, the bill that “would set California’s standard time to year-round Daylight Saving Time.”

Assemblyman Chu, what part of this don’t you understand?

Well, while we’re waiting for Chu “to do more outreach,” the U.S. Congress has the opportunity to fix the clock-changing crap.  And not just for California, but for the whole country.

It’s Senate Bill 670, the Sunshine Protection Act:

Sunshine 1 (2)

And in case you can’t read the fine print at the bottom, here it is:

Sunshine 2 (2)

S.670 was introduced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on March 6, 2019.  On October 31, 2019 Rubio – fainting couch time again – also said something I agree with:

“It’s my hope that Sunday, November 3 will be the last time that we have to do this ridiculous changing of the clocks back and forth.  It makes absolutely no sense, there’s no justification for it.  It has strong support in the House and in the Senate, the White House, the president said he would sign it.  I hope we can get this bill passed because I just think it makes all the sense in the world, and this changing of the clocks back and forth makes no sense at all.”

But Rubio introduced the Sunshine Protection Act back in March.

And since then it, too, has been languishing, this time in the Committee on Commerce,Senate_Commerce.59dfd43084054 Science, and Transportation.  That’s a standing committee made up of 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

So what the hell have these 26 people been so busy doing that they can’t move along a simple bill that “has strong support in the House and the Senate, and the White House”?

I guess they’ve been busy with this:

Pelosi Headline (2).jpg

Because of this…

trump.jpg

Looks like we’re stuck with Spring Forward/Fall Back.

clock flying cropped

You Don’t Have To Torture Me – Just Threaten Me With The New 20-Hour Non-Stop Flight From New York To Australia, And I’ll Confess To Anything

Remember when commercial air travel was fun?

wait what

It was – air travel was fun.

Air travel was…ahhh.

Half-empty planes.  If you didn’t want the middle seat of three, or if you preferred a window seat over an aisle seat, or if the passenger in front of you dropped his seatback down into your lap – you just moved to an empty seat.  There were plenty of them.

mealIf the plane was a widebody, you could stretch out across the four or five center seats for a nice, long nap.  Pillows and blanket were free, and clean.  I’d stretch out, cover up, and mumble, “Wake me up when the food arrives” to a passing flight attendant.

And that food – while never great, it was free.  There were hot entrees, and you had a choice of entrees:  “Omelet or fruit plate?”  “Chicken or beef?”  And I’m not talking just in first-class – free food for us peons in coach, too.

There was a charge for adult beverages, but juices and sodas were free.  Now we’re lucky if we get a gratis glass of water.

That “now” brings me to “now” – and the latest in torture, I mean, in commercial air travel:

Headline (2)

That’s right – in October Australian airline Qantas completed the first non-stop flight from New York to Sydney, Australia.

For 20 agonizingly long hours, passengers were trapped in a Boeing 787-9 for 10,200 miles of together time.

Now, this wasn’t a for-real commercial flight – it was a practice flight.  It was a “let’s see if this plane can actually fly non-stop from New York to Sydney” flight.

I doubt that Qantas put it quite that way to the passengers.

After all, what if the answer was…

um_no_cropped

Qantas Captain:  “Folks, I’ve got some good news…and some bad news.  The good news is, we’re only 100 miles from the coast of Australia.  The bad news is, this little experiment of ours has proven we can’t fly from New York to Sydney without refueling, so we’ll all be swimming those last 100 miles.”

As a hedge against this, the flight carried only 50 passengers and no cargo.  Some of the passengers were Qantas employees, who, prior to going, were told by their managers,

Qantas Manager:  “I’ve got some good news…and some bad news.  The good news is,Good News-Bad news you’re getting a free trip from New York to Sydney.  The bad news is, you’re getting a free trip from New York and we hope to Sydney.”

So, a few more practice runs and I guess Qantas will launch its regular service.

Well, I’ve got some bad news, too.  An airline can’t make any money with only 50 people on an aircraft that can be configured to hold up to 330 passengers.  And no cargo?  No profits there, either.

So I figure Qantas will pack that Boeing 787-9 full and begin a new phase in torture, I mean, in commercial air travel:

Twenty hours of this:

Airplane

And this:

seatback larger

And this:

SMALL-HORSE

And, as so often happens, the flights will be overbooked.  But no worries – Qantas will accommodate you in the baggage hold with these passengers:

Torture

One, last, not-so-minor thing:

Qantas made this New York to Sydney trip in a practically empty Boeing 787-9.  It needs a plane that can make the flight with a full load, and as one article noted, the new Airbus A350-1000 “may have the necessary potential.”

Considering that we’re talking about making this trip in a Boeing aircraft, and considering Boeing’s recent headlines and history, perhaps Qantas should go aircraft shopping…

NY Times (2)