Posted on September 17th, 2020
I am a huge, huge, massively huge fan of Johnny Harris.
If you read my blog with any regularity, you know who Johnny Harris is even though you may not be able to place his name. The guy is a remarkable travel blogger whose videos I have watched over and over and over again. He is the one person I can point to and say "I want to see the world like that!" Given how much travel I've done over the years, that's a pretty bold statement, but it's 100% true.
The best outlet for his work is the series Borders which was published by Vox. At least it was. The series has ebeen canceled... even though the new season (Borders USA) was mostly shot already...
Borders, which sent Johnny to interesting border zones between countries, was an exceptional look at the world and its peoples. I learned so much from this series and it actually changed the way I travel and what I do when I'm out of the country.
So... needless to say, I'm completely gutted at the news.
All is not lost, however. Johnny has been posting on his personal channel and has some very cool stuff there (he's a map-lover like I am and his map videos are amazing). His latest? This piece of brilliance...
I hope you'll give Johnny's videos a look because they're really something special.
And if you like what you see, you can help support his work via his Patreon for as little as $3 a month. A pittance given that it keeps him making really cool videos that are as good as anything you'll find on television.
So... no more Borders.
That always sounded like such a good thing for the people of planet earth. At least until now.
Posted on September 11th, 2020
2001 feels like it was a lifetime ago. 2001 feels like it was yesterday.
And while I've said all I have to say on
Which is to say that essentially a
Now, there are people who are still on the "THEY ARE COUNTING ALL DEATHS AS COVID-19 DEATHS TO MAKE THE PRESIDENT LOOK BAD!" bandwagon. Personally, I think this is bullshit. They are absolutely not doing that. If you have a heart condition, then get shot through the heart and they are unable to repair it because of your existing problems, your heart condition didn't kill you... the fucking bullet did. Regardless of health problems you have, if they are usually manageable but contracting the coronavirus made them unmanageable and you die, then it was COVID-19 which was responsible for your death. And given all the horrific stuff they're learning every day about what the virus does to your body even if you're perfectly healthy... well... it's not just death you have to worry about. The complications and long-term health problems from surviving an infection could push the numbers much higher.
And sure you're still alive if your recover from COVID-19 and end up with lung scarring that makes it so that you're unable to walk 20 feet on your own... but that's just semantics. Because the life you had prior to the coronavirus infection is dead as all get-out.
It seems disrespectful and wrong to those lives lost on
As for politicizing? Well, it's tough to get away from that as well. We have a president who ran on a platform of protecting our lives from "foreigners" and is wasting billions on a wall which will ultimately accomplish very little. Meanwhile, the killer was in the house all along, because now we have the tapes of President Trump saying that he intentionally downplayed the deadliness of the pandemic.* He told the public that the coronavirus was not a big deal and something no worse than the flu that would disappear in April... even though he knew this was a lie. This just encouraged people to ignore a huge threat to their very lives, all while they further spread the virus, leading to countless unnecessary deaths and the destruction of our economy.
Now, of course, the president and his FOX "News" apologists are telling us that he did this because he "didn't want to cause a panic." But apparently he didn't give a shit about sending us into a panic on everything else he unleashed... and continues to unleash... using fear to get himself re-elected. THE MEXICANS ARE COMING TO KILL US, BUT I CAN STOP IT! CHINA IS STEALING OUR JOBS, BUT I CAN STOP IT! DEMOCRATS WANT TO GIVE YOU AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE WHICH WILL DESTROY HEALTH CARE, BUT I CAN STOP IT!
The guy is blowing fear and panic up our asses on a daily basis. And we're really supposed to believe that the reason he lied about COVID-19 was to not sow panic? Get the fuck out of here! Far, far more likely he was protecting his billionaire backers who didn't want the stock market to tank and ruin their profits... and even more likely that he didn't want workers to stop working and ruin his job numbers.
The terrorist attacks of
Never forget? As if we ever could.
*And, while I'm at it, fuck Bob Woodward for keeping a lid on this information all this time... choosing only to release it for when his book was ready. What a complete and total piece of shit. Lives were lost because of you too, sir, and no amount of spin will ever... EVER... erase that. Screw exposing Watergate. THIS is your legacy now. It should be your legacy now.
Posted on September 7th, 2020
75,000 acres on fire to the South... 65,000 acres on fire to the North... and I'm stuck in the middle with so much smoke in the air that I've been feeling sick for hours. I guess I should be uhhh... grateful?... that this is happening now instead of in July, but it still sucks. I honestly thought we'd make it though the Summer without major fires, but here we are.
At least the sunsets will be pretty? I guess?
I haven't read what caused the fires. My guess is that some people were careless over the holiday weekend.
And then there's this...
This idiotic gender reveal bullshit is reaching all new levels of stupid. This isn't even the first time that one of these moronic events has gotten out of hand. God only knows the damage. The number of animals killed or left homeless.
If there's any justice, the people responsible will be having their new baby in jail.
Posted on August 25th, 2020
It's not that I give a shit what sexual stuff Jerry Falwell Jr. is into... it's that he has ruthlessly persecuted other people for exactly the same kind of thing he's done. And while he can claim that God has forgiven him, his wife, and the pool boy, he won't be getting one fucking iota of forgiveness for me. Pieces of shit like Falwell are responsible for creating an atmosphere so toxic that our LGBTQ youth are killing themselves rather than having to spend one more day living in it, so Falwell can go fuck himself. While his wife and the pool boy watch.
Image from Getty Images
Not that I believe for a second that all Falwell did was watch the pool boy rail his wife. At the bare minimum, his dick was in-hand. More likely he was all up in that pool boy. Or the pool boy was all up into him. Or both. Who can say?
Image from REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
And of course Falwell Jr. is claiming that all of this is a criminal conspiracy and has asked the FBI to investigate. He claims that people who were feeding information to the press were "cowardly" for not using their names. I guess it's less cowardly if you claim to do something in God's name? Well, whatever. Absolutely none of the salacious details coming to light should surprise anybody. This is just one in a long, long line of church scandals that are continuously being unearthed which feature hypocritical assholes who are 100% in the "Do as I preach, not as I do" camp.
Image from REUTERS/Scott Morgan
But what does it matter? Whenever this happens (and it happens a lot), all you have to do is say that Jesus forgives you, therefore everybody has to forgive you.
Image from Twitter
Falwell and his wife are, after all, most certainly "Very Fine People™®" and totally worth forgiving despite the fact that they have condemned their own behavior in the eyes of God on a regular basis.
Image from MSNBC
In the end, I guess there's nothing to see here. This is just another day on planet earth, and raging hypocrites being hypocritical is happening every day.
Posted on August 16th, 2020
Six months in quarantine and dumbass idiots just keep our pandemic going strong, but at least there's something to read... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• So Very COVID! U.S. Coronavirus Outbreaks Are Increasingly Tied to Small Family Gatherings, according to this Vice article: If You Love Your Family, Stay the Hell Away From Them. This pandemic is never going to end. This is why.
• WOMAN, CAMERA, TV! Sarah Cooper has just been given a comedy special deal by Netflix. After her many hilarious videos and this monologue for Kimmel, it's easy to see why...
Good on you, Miss Cooper.
• JAJA DING DONG! If you saw the Will Ferrell Netflix movie, Eurovision: The Story of Fire Saga, you know that he plays an Icelandic singer who dreams of competing in the Eurovision song competition. A joke in the movie is when he sings a song called Jaja Ding Dong, which is about exactly what you'd think it would be about. Well, the real-life Iceland Eurovision contestant, Daði Freyr, is constantly being asked to cover the song, and he finally relented...
• Puppies! When I was in Zimbabwe, I was very, VERY lucky to see wild dogs. They are rare to spot, and there was a group of people that flew in a couple weeks prior to my visit who came specifically to photograph them... but never saw a single pup after a week of searching. They are really remarkable creatures, and it's cool that they have found ways to help restore the wild dog populations of Africa...
They're beautiful creatures, to be sure.
• Cats! Tell me that you don't think of Jake and his beloved toy Mufasa when you see this...
Cats are the most incredible creatures.
• Cohen! Michael Cohen's new book is coming, and it promises to be a doozy. I won't give the piece of shit a single cent of my money no matter how much dirt he's dishing... and there's really no reason to. I'm sure all the tea will be spread far and wide without me having to buy a thing. If nothing else we'll finally get confirmation that the pee pee tape exists...
I believed it all along.
And that's they way it goes. Enjoy your pandemic.
Posted on August 10th, 2020
It's always a pleasant surprise when I watch a television show or movie for entertainment value and walk away learning something. I'm not talking documentaries and true-life story adaptations and stuff like that... I'm talking fictional stories built for entertainment purposes which have at their core some real knowledge to be had.
Most of the time, this happens with something small. Maybe you learn the capitol city of some country you never knew about. Maybe you learn some oddball scientific fact. Or maybe it's something really off the wall like the way a particular poison can be used to get away with murder. There's all kinds of small facts that are weaved into TV and movies, and it's these facts big and small which can lead your head to accepting the larger fiction.
A recent example of this is the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921. Most people had no idea that such a horrific event ever happened until the HBO super-hero show, Watchmen, made it a primary plot point for the mini-series. I'm sure some people even thought it had been invented just for the show. That's how buried it was in our history.
For me personally, the movie that most comes to mind about learning something was a 1991 film starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Peck, Penelope Ann Miller, and Piper Laurie called Other People's Money. It was based on a play of the same name by Jerry Sterner...
I went to the theater to see the movie because A) I fell in love with Penelope Ann Miller after she appeared in Kindergarten Cop and I realized she was Brenda in Adventures in Babysitting, and B) It was Danny DeVito starring in a movie that looked like he might be doing something along the lines of Ruthless People, a movie I love, and C) Piper Laurie was hot off of Twin Peaks, a show I love, and D) Gregory Peck...
Looking back at a film from nearly 30 years ago, you just know that there's going to be plenty of problematic moments. And there truly are. The sexism alone paints Other People's Money as a dinosaur from another age.
But man if I didn't learn a heck of a lot about how Wall Street works, how stocks and shareholders work, how hostile takeovers work, how money works. Just look at this scene that gets the movie ball rolling...
And don't think that the movie is all money talk. We got lawyer jokes too!
But the real education came at the end of the movie when I learned how proxy fights work. Now, if you have any plans to see this movie... and I suggest that you do see it... this video is a bit of a spoiler here. Gregory Peck has just made an impassioned plea to the stockholders to save his wire & cable company and not give in to Danny DeVito and his culture of greed. The room goes wild and he is lauded with thunderous applause. And then it's Danny DeVito's turn...
Fantastic performance there. And here's the thing... Danny DeVito makes an argument that is completely air-tight. You can't argue with what he's saying in the context of the movie. And the big lesson I took away from this was that when it comes to situations like this, it's not always black-and-white. It's shades of grey. Or, in this case, shades of green.
I've been thinking a lot about Other People's Money as it relates to contemporary times.
There are industries that are dying yet we keep propping them up just because it's politically advantageous to do so. There are many, many examples I could drop here. Many. But the one that got me thinking about this movie is the coal industry. Coal is dead. It's beyond dead. Many of its uses have become antiquated. Nobody burns coal to heat their home or make a train run any more. And while I'm sure there are some industrial uses for it... like coal-fired pizza ovens and such... coal has fallen out of use in favor of cheaper sources like natural gas and renewable energy sources (both of which are cleaner as well). The use of coal for electricity production is plummeting year-over-year. It's quickly getting to the point where nobody wants to buy coal any more. The pandemic has put that fact in vivid relief. Coal mining companies are declaring bankruptcy left and right.
And yet politicians keep dragging it along with their campaigns so that they can pick up some electoral votes in states like West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.
And it makes zero sense.
Other than the fact that voters fall for it hook, line, and sinker.
And you know who gets hurt by all of it? The coal miners. Coal miners get screwed along with all the workers associated with coal mining.
Because no matter how long politicians want to prop up coal... whether it's with subsidies or by coming up with idiotic nonsense like the notion of "clean coal"... it doesn't change the fact that coal is dead. And rather than accept that coal is dead and move forward by creating new jobs for coal workers with new renewable energy technology jobs, politicians keep dragging it along while foreign countries invest in renewable energy jobs which won't be going to American workers.
And why is that?
Lobbyist money, of course.
Big Coal and Big Oil and Big Pharma and all these "Big" companies OWN our politicians. They BUY them off to promote their bullshit so they continue to make money while American workers lose their jobs and American citizens get screwed.
And we have nobody to blame but ourselves because we keep re-electing them.
I feel badly for the people who keep voting for politicians who don't have their best interests at heart because the lie is always so much easier to believe. They trust the people who say they will take care of them even though it rarely turns out to be true... and is getting less true by the minute. I probably learned that from a movie somewhere, but the best way to learn is to just look at the news.
Assuming you can find actual news any more.
Much like the buggy whip and coal, actual, factual news seems to be dead...
So, game over, I guess.
Posted on August 3rd, 2020
Oh... that time is now, isn't it?
Posted on July 23rd, 2020
=sigh= I've drastically cut down on the number of political posts I drop on my blog because there's nothing new to say. On top of that, it always makes people mad because I am critical of politicians no matter which side of the political divide they get their lobbyist money from.
But recently something has been dominating the news cycle which has really bothered me, so I'm just going to dump my thoughts here for all the world to see and let the chips fall where they may. And that "something" is Impeached President Trump bragging about being able to pass a cognitive test like it's certified him as some kind of very stable genius.
As the caregiver for my mother through her dementia, it's a test I'm painfully familiar with.
Far from an IQ test, the test our impeached president is referring to is designed to be a screening tool for diagnosing cognitive decline and brain-related problems. It looks like this...
This is the Montreal Cognitive Ability Test. I'm not positive this is the version of the test my mom took but, if it wasn't, it was very close to this. She took it twice. And watching her struggling to get through it is something that still haunts my nightmares. The first time she attempted it she pretty much failed at everything, and it was all I could do to not break down into tears right there in the doctor's office. I was so close to her problems that I wasn't seeing them for what they were. It was this test that put everything into perspective for me, and it was gut-wrenching. I am having anxiety just remembering back to it.
The second time we got through question three and there was really no point in going any further. That time I did break down in tears, but it was after I had excused myself and somehow made it to a stall in the men's bathroom.
Ironically I remember her taking the tests like it was yesterday because my cognitive abilities are (assumably) mostly okay.
The first question has you running through a maze of characters which are alternating numbers and letters of the alphabet. The challenge is to get them in alternating order, which anybody with a brain can manage easily. Except people with an injured brain, of course. Despite having it explained to her twice, my mom connected the numbers and ignored the letters. The next question asks you to draw a 3-D cube. Even if you don't have artistic talent this is something people can copy fairly easily. My mom managed to get a square okay, but then it was just random lines.
Next you have to draw a clock with the time set to 10 past eleven. This might be tricky for some but, again, a person with normal cognitive function can draw a circle, put a tick at 12 O'clock and 6 O'clock, draw in the 15 and 45 minute ticks, then put two ticks between the ticks you have. Then you draw the little hand and the big hand at the appropriate time. This had my mom completely flummoxed. She got a kinda-oval shape, but then just started drawing random lines really close together, and she had to be coached to get that far. I think the hands she drew weren't even on the clock face.
Then you have to name some drawings of animals. Mom blazed through these with no problem. At the time of her first test her long-term memory was in pretty good shape.
Next is a memory test where you are given five words and asked to repeat them back. This is where things can get tricky. If you just throw five random words at me, I won't remember them at all... likely not even five minutes later. But if you tell me I have to remember five random words, then I can do that no problem because I use memory association. FACE • Okay, I am picturing a woman's face. VELVET • Okay, the FACE is Isabella Rossellini and she is rubbing a piece of blue VELVET on it. CHURCH • Okay, we pull back from Isabella Rossellini's FACE being rubbed by blue VELVET and she's sitting on the steps of a CHURCH. DAISY • Okay, Isabella Rossellini's FACE is being rubbed with blue VELVET as she sits on the steps of a CHURCH which has a DAISY growing in front of it. RED • Isabella Rossellini's FACE rubbed by blue VELVET as she sits on CHURCH steps with a DAISY growing in front of it and a PeTA nut job just drove by and threw RED paint on everything. FACE, VELVET, CHURCH, DAISY, RED. Got it. My mom, of course, couldn't get through the list at all. She couldn't remember a thing, and this was all really confusing to her.
Then you repeat some numbers and have them repeated back... and have to clap when you hear the letter "A" when a series of letters are read to you. Then you have to count backwards from 100 by sevens (which, is something I can do easy enough, but it takes a minute!). My mom just kinda stared blankly and couldn't be coaxed into even attempting any of this.
And now we're finally to those last five VERY HARD QUESTIONS which has Impeached President Trump thinking he's some kind of medical miracle.
When Impeached President Trump brags about five fairly simple questions being "very hard," I am understandably concerned. Everybody should be. But more than being concerned, I am very, very pissed off. Whether your brain is cognitively functional or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether you're an evil asshole or not! Do I think Joe Biden could run through this test and get 30 out of 30 correct? No. No I do not. Do I think that Impeached President Trump actually got 30 out of 30 correct? No. No I absolutely do not. We will never see that test. And even if we saw that test, there's no guarantee whatsoever that it's the actual test or that he wasn't coached all the way through it. That's politics. And as thrilling as it might be to see Joe Biden and Impeached President Trump go head-to-head in a cognitive test when I think that they both have demonstrated that they have cognitive issues... that isn't going to get us anywhere. It's not going to tell us which special interest groups are buying them off. It's not going to tell us what they'll be fleecing off the American people's hard-earned tax dollars. It's not going to tell us what back-door deals and shady cronyism their administration will be party to.
All it will tell us is whether they can remember what a lion, rhino, and camel are.
But my biggest takeaway from all this brouhaha is that there's a serious stigma against people with brain and memory problems. I read the comments on these news stories and it's mostly people making fun of Impeached President Trump or Joe Biden because they (allegedly) have cognitive decline. Which is to say that they're making fun of my mom. And as I sit here and type these words my heart is aching.
I am not going to lie, though. I absolutely do this too.
I try not to. I know better. And it's never necessarily to make fun of people, but more to offer armchair assessments as to somebody's mental state or cognitive abilities from a clinical perspective when it comes to the responsibilities they have. I've said that Joe Biden looks like he's sundowning, which may be true... but it could just be him attempting to speak when he suffers from a stutter. I've said that Impeached President Trump scares the shit out of me because everything he says is insane and he's got his finger on the button to unleash the nukes... but it could just be him being an evil, disgusting excuse for a human being. I honestly don't know.
As always, all I can do is try to be better about not stigmatizing mental health.
Even if I fail in the attempt.
Which I do a lot.
Take my trying to eat better, for example.
Yesterday I had to go to the grocery store because I needed an onion and a few other items. While I was there I passed by a display of sugary bakery products that were on sale. These are things that I just can't eat any more... most of the time I don't even want to eat them any more... but I saw a box of raspberry jelly donuts and was immediately intrigued. When I was in college, I was eating a box of these things a day. But as of now? I haven't had a raspberry jelly donut in decades.
I bought a box of course. If I'm careful and eat them in moderation they're not going to kill me, right?
Yeah... I ate half the box that afternoon and downed the other half this morning for breakfast.
But I'll try to do better tomorrow, I promise.
Posted on July 22nd, 2020
For reasons I don't really want to get into, I had to get a COVID-19 test today. Given the abundance of precautions I've been taking to not contract the virus (and the fact that I have no symptoms), I would be shocked to find out that I've got it. If I do, that would suck mightily considering how I've locked myself away in quarantine for five months. But it's not like it's outside the realm of possibility given that I still have to go grocery shopping and the majority of people here in Redneckistan still think it's all some kind of overblown Democrat hoax or whatever. Never mind that hospitals are filling up and deaths are reaching all-time highs, it's all fake news!
Until it isn't, of course.
The area where I live has made the news lately because there were COVID-19 employee outbreaks at a warehouse and at the local Walmart (to name two). Apparently Independence Day Weekend was just too much temptation for Redneckistanians who want to show Governor Jay Inslee that he's not the boss of them. Never mind that the guy is just listening to scientists who study this crap in an effort to keep everybody safe... he's Hitler for mandating that people wear a mask!
What's interesting is that the spike in infections mean that our local healthcare conglomerate has had to take over an old bank in order to create a massive drive-thru testing service in order to keep up with demand.
The facility opened at 8am but I was warned that it's busy first thing in the morning, so I waited until 8:45. I pulled into the (former) bank parking lot where a cigar-chomping man on a scooter was unnecessarily directing me to a lane to queue in. There were about 8 cars ahead of me in both lanes (total) and the wait only took about 15 minutes. First you pull up to a guy verifying that your doctor requested a test, then you pull forward to wait for a technicians to walk up and give you a lobotomy.
Well, not really, but it feels like you're getting a lobotomy.
After you lean your head back, they shove a long Q-tip up your nose into the back of your sinus cavity...
(Original) image taken from WBEZ.org
Then they start twisting it for six seconds so they can get a sample of mucus from deep, deep, deep inside your nasal passage. And what seems like a sample of you brain tissue for good measure.
It burns a little bit, but not so much that I was ready to start screaming or anything. What bothers me is that I was still feeling it for hours after it was over. Like the Q-tip was left up my nose or something. It was a good five or six hours before I felt quasi-normal again.
I'm told that I should have results back in 3-5 days. The clinic will call me directly if I test positive or it's inconclusive (at which point you have to act as if it was positive). If I never hear from them, that means I was negative and my results will be posted to MyChart so I have a record of my being perfectly positively toward the negative. Or however the fuck our dumbass impeached president has convinced his cult you're supposed to say it...
The entire world has done everything they can to get a handle on the pandemic and halt the spread of this virus that's killing us. Well, almost the entire world. Here in the USA, we've got leadership that has been propagating misinformation and unleashing a steady streams of bullshit from day one. Which is why we're leading the known universe in coronavirus infections and deaths.
I hope to God that people remember this come November.
Posted on July 17th, 2020
It is impossible to put into words how much John Lewis has come to mean to me.
From what I remember, The Civil Rights Movement was pretty much glossed over at school. I'm sure it was explored a bit, but not in a way that any of it stuck in my head. That wouldn't happen until I watched a Martin Luther King Jr. documentary shortly before leaving on a school DECA Nationals competition to New Orleans in 1983. On my way back home I was in an airport gift shop and spotted a book on The Civil Rights Movement. I didn't have the money to buy it, but made a note to request it at my local library. In the book I was introduced to The Big Six of The Movement... Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, Whitney Young, A. Philip Randolph, Roy Wilkins... and John Lewis. They were immediate real-life super-heroes to me, and their story was about as inspiring as it gets.
Not too many years after that James Farmer released his autobiography, Lay Bare the Heart. I checked it out at the library the minute it was available and found it a riveting read. The only other surviving member of The Big Six was John Lewis, and I remember wondering when he would pen an autobiography. The thirteen year wait for Walking with the Wind was worth the wait. Easily one of my favorite books of all time, it was a highly personal account of The Movement that went behind the scenes in a way that precious few could manage. If you don't walk away from the book in a fit of blind admiration for John Lewis, you'd have to be dead inside.
But it was his graphic novel, March, that really made me fall in love with the man...
To promote the series, he appeared at Comic-Con in full super-hero cosplay... as himself!
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
Photo from Representative John Lewis via Facebook
How many people can do that?
He never stopped fighting the good fight. He became a Congressman and served 17 terms, representing Georgia's 5th right up until his death... today... at age 80.
As a champion of freedom, Representative Lewis lived a life of service that is admirable and leaves a legacy that few can match. His voice in government will be sorely missed... especially in an age where Federal Officers In Unmarked Vans Are Snatching People Off The Streets In Portland and we're barreling further into fascism with each new day.
One can only hope that the legion of people he inspired will carry on in his place.
Rest in Peace, sir.