Wednesday Reads: A gift to someone.

Good afternoon, running late today…I forgot it was Wednesday. So that cartoon above by Pat Bagley is just about perfect…as are several of the other cartoons below from the Cagle website:

So if you are in Georgia…please get out the vote for Warnock in the primaries!

Now, I’ve been on Twitter since 2008..and that is a lot of years of me posting personal comments and statements.

I don’t think I want those things I say in the hands of some asshole dickwad tRump loving fuckhead who decided to takeover Twitter. So I am asking you to please follow my new Twitter account.

Here is a link:

I originally had this album cover as my @PeggyDickover Twitter header…but I thought it may be pushing things too far:

Who knows, maybe I will change it back again once the Musk takeover is complete. Why the fuck not? This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: Darwin Award Issue

Masks, 1911, Emil Nolde

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

The state of Louisiana and the City of New Orleans opened up right before Halloween dropping some of the mask mandates. I’m not sure how smart of an idea that was given that we’ve seen the same pattern of plague rat invasion as tourists come back to the city from places where vaccine adoption is low.  The 4th of July comes to mind.  However, we did have good numbers, and I’m now starting the countdown to Thanksgiving to see if we surge again. I’m still masking and staying my fat ass home mostly. I’ve come to enjoy having things delivered.  Halloween should have been a big party with best mask awards.

So, anyway, today’s New York Times and David Leonhardt have some startling–but not surprising–statistics to report. “U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder. The partisan gap in Covid’s death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.” This is essentially why I worry when we just invite the surrounding parishes and states to let their people out of the state to aim a deadly cough at anyone.  The differences in death rates between this year and last are astounding.

Then the vaccines arrived.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

Some conservative writers have tried to claim that the gap may stem from regional differences in weather or age, but those arguments fall apart under scrutiny. (If weather or age were a major reason, the pattern would have begun to appear last year.) The true explanation is straightforward: The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.

And while we’re on the subject, how can you possibly get triggered by Big Bird?

Jackson Pollock, Mask,
1941

Plague rats indeed.  Red is Dead.  Meanwhile, the worst of them are triggered by Big Bird talking to kids about his vaccine. There’s a lot of a pearl-clutching about doing mass vaccinations in schools while many of us are old enough to have stood in line for a lot of those in the 1950s and 1960s. Many Republicans are acting like that never happened.

So, if they think public health actions are a governmental overreach, why are they down with authoritarianism?  Is it because it wears a white face?  This is from The Bulwark. ” Notes on an Authoritarian Conspiracy: Inside the Claremont Institute’s “79 Days to Inauguration” Report. Claremont’s post-election war game provides a window into the group’s ambitions.”

John Eastman has a prominent place in all of this along with all the white nationalist domestic terrorists. It’s a tough read but a necessary one.

The sun rises on January 6, 2021 while a nation is in crisis.

Michigan’s presidential electors are in dispute after a mysterious fire in Detroit destroyed thousands of mail-in ballots, ultimately throwing the election to Congress.

The nation’s capital is overwhelmed by riots organized by left-wing radicals.

A Republican member of Congress is attacked and critically injured in the violence, potentially depriving Donald Trump of the decisive vote.

However, the representative heroically insists on being taken to the House floor. “With IVs and blood transfusions being administered, the member casts the deciding vote, giving Trump 26 state delegations and the needed majority.”

This is the grisly climax of a report published in mid-October 2020 by the Claremont Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation’s (TPPF) called “79 Days to Inauguration,” prepared by “Constitutional scholars, along with experts in election law, foreign affairs, law enforcement, and media . . . coordinated by a retired military officer experienced in running hundreds of wargames.”

Among these luminaries were figures such as John Eastman—lawyer for Donald Trump and author of a memo advising Vice President Mike Pence to unilaterally block certification of Joe Biden’s win in order to buy time for GOP-controlled state legislatures to send competing slates of electors—and K.T. McFarland, who served as deputy national security advisor under Michael Flynn in the Trump White House.

Other participants include Kevin Roberts, then-executive director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation (soon to be head of the Heritage Foundation), Jeff Giesea, “a [Peter] Thiel protégé and secret funder of alt-right causes,” and Charles Haywood, a fringe blogger who anxiously awaits an American “Caesar, authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions.”

Masks, 1925′ James Ensor

The MSM needs to be screaming a lot louder about this than talking about sausage-making behind any policy.  Leave the latter worry to Nancy, Chuck, Kamala, and Joe.  More from that Bulwark article:

Remember, this narrative is the result of a role-playing exercise in which the participants imagined themselves as key decision-makers in the federal government. The actions described, therefore, might be best understood as a combination of group therapy and suggestions for how they believe the federal government and law enforcement should behave in a moment of constitutional crisis.

Some of the report is revealing. Some of it is sad. Some of it is darkly funny. For instance, the authors’ recommendation for mass, politically motivated arrests “to remove the players from the picture” sits oddly next to the right’s outraged reaction to the prosecution of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

There’s more irony in how the task force imagines right-wing gangs would operate during such a period: with quiet discipline and in cooperation with law enforcement.

A lack of social media activity and overt action by the rioting by members of the Proud Boys draws the attention of law enforcement officials suspecting they may be operating covertly on the ground in several major urban rioting areas, but their exact involvement is unknown. Reports of militias moving into suburban areas is being monitored. Several groups affiliated with the Three Percenters and Oath Keepers have openly offered to assist law enforcement in putting down the violence via social media, touting significant current and retired law enforcement and military membership.

Which is . . . not how the Trumpist forces behaved during the actual crisis:

Go read it and try to open a few eyes around you by sharing it.  Then see who they really are when you read this.

A man who allegedly participated in the Capitol riot Jan. 6 and is wanted by the FBI is now seeking asylum in Belarus, the country’s state media reported Monday, presenting him as a “simple American whose shops were burned by Black Lives Matter activists.”

Evan Neumann, who appears to have sat down for an interview with Belarusian state television in a segment titled “Goodbye, America,” is wanted in the United States on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, as well as for assaulting, resisting and obstructing law enforcement during civil disorder.

Both Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his close ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have frequently referenced the Capitol riot, calling the prosecution of those involved an example of “double standards” by the United States because it frequently criticizes crackdowns on anti-government protests abroad.

When mass protests broke out across Belarus last year over its presidential election, which the international community has widely denounced as rigged, thousands of demonstrators were brutally beaten by police and arrested. Many said they were tortured in prison.

But Neumann could be welcomed in Belarus as part of the regime’s anti-Western propaganda efforts. Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has said the United States stoked last year’s opposition movement to unseat him.

Tim O’Connor, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Belarus, which is based in Vilnius, Lithuania, said in a statement that the embassy has “seen Belarusian state media reporting about Mr. Neumann. Due to U.S. privacy laws, we are limited in what we can say about individual U.S. citizens.”

“The United States is a country where the rule of law is respected and where government is transparent and accountable for its actions,” O’Connor added. “Every citizen can count on an impartial and objective court system. There has not been a single case of transparent, accountable investigation into and prosecution of the actions of Belarusian police that resulted in deaths, systemic torture and the continued repression of Belarusian citizens, of whom over 800 remain in jail for peaceful protest against the regime.”

Death and the Masks, 1897, James Ensor

Maybe Belarus could take all the Trumps and the Trumperz in and deal with them.  That way we’d have a lot fewer problems.  NBC reports on a poll that shows deep partisan differences in social media usage. Well, if they all went to Belarus they wouldn’t have to worry about social media at all.

Our most recent NBC News poll asked respondents about their social media consumption, and the results told a clear story that doesn’t require 280 characters.

Twitter isn’t real life — at least when it comes to party identification and political attitudes.

In the poll, 69 percent of adults say they have an account on Facebook, 28 percent say they use Twitter, 27 percent use TikTok and 27 percent don’t have an account on any of these social media platforms.

And those who use Twitter and TikTok are more likely to be Democrats than Republicans; are more likely to be Democrats who supported Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren than Joe Biden during the 2020 Democratic primary season; and are — not surprisingly — more likely to be younger than the general population.

That figures.  Most people I know on Twitter use it to find breaking news.  I don’t really look for news on Facebook other than that related to my friends’ cats, dogs, bunnies, and grandchildren.

So, I’ll leave all this to you to discuss.  Are you still masking everywhere?  I walk Temple sans mask but I don’t go near people without one in a building if I go at all.  Like I said, I’m beginning to enjoy front door service.

What’s on your news and reading list today?


Wednesday Reads: Screw those virtual hugs.

 

Take your virtual hugs and fuck off….

 

I think that social media is turning everyone into anti-social assholes.

I went to a Christmas party this holiday season…it was a small party, when I got there I gave the people hugs. Why? Well…because it was fucking Christmas…and because I am an affectionate person and…being Latin, it is part of our DNA…you hug people you care about, especially if it is a fucking Christmas party.

Dammit, I could feel the animosity…

 

It seems as if the Facebook society has given people the excuse to become pseudo-Zuckerburgs.  By that, I mean…adopting an emotionally inept attitude, lacking any sentimental bonds or real human connection that is not some kind of fake fucking virtual “like” or “love” emoji.  In other words, behaving like a robotic asshole.

It is all bullshit….so damn sick of those “No Touch” memes:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Welcome to a world where the only acceptable hug…is the virtual one you get over the fucking social network.

 

Here is my reply, via emoji:

 #🖕🏻🖕🏼🖕🏽🖕🏾🖕🏿

 

 

Sorry for the rant…

Now the cartoons:

2019..fingers crossed: 01/01/2019 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - 2019..fingers crossed

The hangover: 01/01/2019 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - The hangover

 

12/30 Mike Luckovich: Happy New Year

01/01/2019 Cartoon by Charlie Daniel

Cartoon by Charlie Daniel -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/01/2019 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

New Year Baby: 12/31/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - New Year Baby

01/01/2019 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Happy New Year?: 01/01/2019 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Happy New Year?

2019 eve: 12/31/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - 2019 eve

WINDFALL: 12/30/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - WINDFALL

And with that…I turn it over to you.

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Penny Marshall, et al …2018

Penny Marshall

Penny Marshall Dead at 75.

 

It is that time of year, and in memory of those who are no longer with us…here is a review of who we lost this 2018.

 

 

 

Penny Marshall from Celebrity Deaths: 2018’s Fallen Stars | E! News

That link takes you to a gallery of pictures representing celebrity deaths from 2018….including:

SONDRA LOCKE

The Oscar-nominated actress passed away on Nov. 3. The Any Which Way You Can star was 74 years old.

RICKY JAY

The magician and actor, best known for his roles in Tomorrow Never Dies, Deadwood and Boogie Nightsdied on November 24 from natural causes. He was 72.

ROY CLARK

The country star was known for hosting Yee Haw died at the age of 85 on November 15. He died of complications from pneumonia while surrounded by family and friends at his Tulsa, Okla. home.

KATHERINE MACGREGOR

The star, who played Harriet Oleson in the ’70s hit series Little House on the Prarie, died on November 13 at the age of 93. She was living at the Motion Picture Fund Long Term Nursing Care facility in Woodland Hills, California at the time of her death.

NEIL SIMON

The famous Broadway playwright and screenwriter, known for plays such as The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park, died at age 91 on August 26 after battling complications from pneumonia

ED KING

The Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist died on August 22 at age 68 after battling lung cancer.

ARETHA FRANKLIN

The iconic songstress died at home in Detroit on August 16 following a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 76 years old.

TAB HUNTER

The ’50s movie idol (born Arthur Andrew Kelm) died July 8, three days shy of his 87th birthday. Known for starring in movies like The Burning Hills and Damn Yankees, Hunter came out of the closet in 2005 in his autobiography, confirming rumors that had been swirling since his heyday. Hunter’s cause of death was not immediately known.

KATE SPADE

The famous fashion designer died of apparent suicide in June 2018. She was 55 years old.

Designer, Kate Spade

 

The surprise for many was the recent death of Penny Marshall:

Penny Marshall in 1980.

 

Penny Marshall’s Legacy, From Laverne & Shirley to Directing

As both a performer and a filmmaker, Marshall, who died Monday at the age of 75, stood counter to the prevailing wisdom of what women like her were supposed to be, and do. From her breakthrough as a sitcom star to her subsequent success as a blockbuster filmmaker, Marshall never seemed to get hung up on what other people thought she was supposed to be doing — or if she did, you could never tell. And as both an actress and a director, she was simultaneously big and subtle, aiming at the widest possible audience while smuggling in little grace notes that caught even fans by surprise.

When viewers of a certain age first noticed Marshall on sitcoms in the 1970s — first as Oscar Madison’s secretary on The Odd Couple, and then as Laverne DeFazio on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley — they saw a throwback to character actresses from ’50s television and prewar movies. She was a scene-stealer with big city, white ethnic bluntness, the kind of woman who might’ve dispensed tough but loving advice to Grace Kelly or bashed a mugger over the head with an umbrella.

Give that obit a read through…it details Marshall’s work in Hollywood through the years.

Penny Marshall, Star of Laverne & Shirley, Dead at Age 75 | E! News

Actress and director Penny Marshall died “peacefully” last night at age 75 at her Hollywood Hills home, E! News has confirmed. Her cause of death was complications from diabetes, and a celebration of life ceremony will be held at a later date. “Our family is heartbroken over the passing of Penny Marshall,” a spokesperson for the star’s family told E! News in a statement. Born Oct. 15, 1943, Penny is predeceased by her brother, actor/director Garry Marshall. She is survived by her sister Ronny Marshall; her daughter Tracy Reiner; and her three grandchildren.

A no-nonsense New Yorker, Penny’s Hollywood breakthrough came from starring in the hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran for eight seasons on ABC from Jan. 27, 1976, until May 10, 1983. But Penny found even more success behind the camera, directing hit films like Big (1988), Awakenings (1990), A League of Their Own (1992), The Preacher’s Wife (1996) and Riding in Cars With Boys (2001), among others. With Big, Penny made history as the first woman to direct a movie that grossed $100 million—something she did again with A League of Their Own.

“With directing, I didn’t have to wear makeup or get my hair done. But I do not like getting up that early,” she said in a Women and Hollywood interview in 2012. “In TV we did our show in front of an audience, so we got up early only one morning. We did camera blocking in the morning and we shot at night which was a much more humane existence. No one is funny at 7 a.m. It’s faster to act, but a lot of times you are sitting in a Winnebago waiting. Directing is more fun—if you can create stuff, if you can create business for people to do and not just pull lines out of people’s mouths. So if people come prepared then you can add business. I like behavior.”

A multitalented workhorse, Penny also produced a number of movies and TV series. “Penny was a girl from the Bronx, who came out West, put a cursive ‘L’ on her sweater and transformed herself into a Hollywood success story,” the Marshall family said. “We hope her life continues to inspire others to spend time with family, work hard and make all of their dreams come true.”

This next one deals with:

Carrie Fisher and Penny Marshall’s Friendship: A Timeline

When actress, director, and general multi-hyphenate trailblazer Penny Marshall died earlier this week, one of the trending topics that followed the news was her BFF status with Carrie Fisher — fun quotes they said about each other, some cute photos, you name it. We love it! But despite the very public celebration of their friendship on social media, the women enjoyed spending time together away from life’s flashbulbs and recorders, really only regaling us with their life’s anecdotes through memoirs and rare interviews. “We’ve lasted longer than all of our marriages combined. Our crazy lives have meshed perfectly,” Marshall perhaps put it best in her 2012 memoir. “We’ve always said it’s because we never liked the same drugs or men, but I know there’s more to it.” Here, let’s take an abridged look at the early stages of their pairing, which we promise we won’t refer to as “friendship goals.”

Great pictures there at that link…and read the few stories as well. A cheerful look on both women’s lives.

In another death of 2018:

Last Warsaw Ghetto uprising fighter dies in Israel

The last surviving fighter from the doomed 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising by Jewish partisans against the Nazis died Saturday in Israel aged 94, the country’s president said.

Simcha Rotem, who went by the nom-de-guerre Kazik, served in the Jewish Fighting Organisation that staged the uprising as the Nazis conducted mass deportations of residents to the death camps.

“This evening, we part from… Simcha Rotem, the last of the Warsaw Ghetto fighters,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement.

“He joined the uprising and helped save dozens of fighters”.

Hundreds of Jewish fighters began their fight on April 19, 1943, after the Nazis began deporting the surviving residents of the Jewish ghetto they had set up after invading Poland.

The insurgents preferred to die fighting instead of in a gas chamber at the Treblinka death camp where the Nazis had already sent more than 300,000 Warsaw Jews.

Speaking at a 2013 ceremony in Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the uprising, Rotem recalled that by April 1943 most of the ghetto’s Jews had died and the 50,000 who remained expected the same fate.

Rotem said he and his comrades launched the uprising to “choose the kind of death” they wanted.

“But to this very day I keep thinking whether we had the right to make the decision to start the uprising and by the same token to shorten the lives of many people by a week, a day or two,” Rotem said.

Thousands of Jews died in Europe’s first urban anti-Nazi revolt, most of them burned alive, and nearly all the rest were then sent to Treblinka.

Rotem survived by masterminding an escape through the drain system with dozens of comrades. Polish sewer workers guided them to the surface.

He went on to participate in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising led by Polish resistance fighters against the Nazis.

And let us not forget the death of Jakelin Caal… and the deaths of other children and immigrants who seemed to lurk in the background of news story recaps:

Where seven-year-old Jakelin Caal crossed, migrants risk death to enter US | US news | The Guardian

Antelope Wells, an isolated point of entry in New Mexico, is where hundreds cross over, seeking refuge from violence

The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico.
 The deceptively beautiful landscape around Antelope Wells in the remote south-western corner of New Mexico. Photograph: Don Usner/Searchlight New Mexico

The black shadows of yucca shrubs huddled under a three-quarter moon. A stiff desert wind hushed all but the deafening crunch of footsteps where a chest-high barrier divides the US and Mexico.

Behind María and her son were the thousands of miles they covered overland from Guatemala, with Mexico streaming by the bus window, day and night. On the way, she broke her ankle but pressed on with few stops.

Then came the last leg: the night crossing into the New Mexico Bootheel. The state’s rugged, remote south-western corner was where seven-year-old Guatemalan girl Jakelin Caal crossed with her father one December night and became gravely ill.

Her death earlier this month became the symbol of a dangerous new pattern of human smuggling through New Mexico, where 20 groups of more than 100 migrants each have arrived since October, a massive increase from just eight large groups in all of fiscal 2018, according to US Customs and Border Protection. A record number are asking for asylum in the US.

I was going to end it there…but here are a few news worthy links:

A volcano…Child of Krakatoa has made some noise, this time causing a tsunami that has killed and injured many in Indonesia.

As of 7 am this morning:

Tsunami from erupting Krakatau kills at least 222 in Indonesia | Reuters

PANDEGLANG, Indonesia (Reuters) – A tsunami killed at least 222 people and injured hundreds on the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra following an underwater landslide believed caused by the erupting Anak Krakatau volcano, officials and media said on Sunday.

Angry ‘Child of Krakatoa’ rumbles on

The volcano that apparently triggered a deadly tsunami in Indonesia late Saturday emerged from the sea around the legendary Krakatoa 90 years ago and has been on a high-level eruption watchlist for the past decade.

Anak Krakatoa (the “Child of Krakatoa”) has been particularly active since June, occasionally sending massive plumes of ash high into the sky and in October a tour boat was nearly hit by lava bombs from the erupting volcano.

Anak Krakatoa tsunami – in pictures | World news | The Guardian

A resident searches for items among the ruins of a villa after the area was hit by a tsunami, at Carita beach in Padeglang, Banten province, Indonesia,

 

Indonesia tsunami hits Sunda Strait after Krakatau eruption – BBC News

More than 220 people have been killed and 843 injured after a tsunami hit coastal towns on Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

The tsunami waves struck at night without any warning, destroying hundreds of buildings.

Officials say the tsunami could have been caused by undersea landslides after Anak Krakatau volcano erupted.

The Sunda Strait, between the islands of Java and Sumatra, connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

More images and updates at the links above.

 

Here are a couple of articles on media. One deals with social media, the other with news media:

Social media is an existential threat to our idea of democracy | Opinion | The Guardian

At last, we’re getting somewhere. Two years after Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, we’re finally beginning to understand the nature and extent of Russian interference in the democratic processes of two western democracies. The headlines are: the interference was much greater than what was belatedly discovered and/or admitted by the social media companies; it was more imaginative, ingenious and effective than we had previously supposed; and it’s still going on.

 

This next one I find important for this key component: Der Spiegel takes the blame for scandal of reporter who faked stories | World news | The Guardian

US ambassador says revelations prove magazine guilty of institutional bias, as far-right groups seek to exploit the case

The US government has waded into the scandal of the German journalist forDer Spiegel magazine who faked stories on a grand scale over years, calling it proof of “institutional bias” in the media against America.

In a scathing letter to the magazine’s editors, Richard Grenell, US ambassador to Germany, claims the journalism of Claas Relotius, who resigned from the German news magazine last week, was symptomatic of anti-American bias across the mainstream media. “It is clear that we were the victims of a campaign of institutional bias,” Grenell wrote to Der Spiegel, in a letter also seen by the daily newspaper Bild. He said he was aghast at the way “anti-American coverage” had been facilitated by the magazine.

You can read the details at the link, main focus being:

The scandal has sparked fears that the far right will exploit the scandal to sow further distrust of the media. The German far right has a long history of attacking the press.

In recent years, the anti-immigration group Pegida and elements of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) have resurrected the Nazi-era slur of Lügenpresse (“lying press”) to describe mainstream journalism they claim does not represent the world as they see it. These voices have been further emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and his use of the term “fake news.”

“Relotius is in the end only a product of an absurdly leftist writers’ fraternity that is increasingly seldom prepared to leave its own convenient moral comfort zone in favour of the facts,” wrote Alice Weidl, a leader of the AfD, in a Facebook post.

The leading German journalist Hendrik Wieduwilt wrote: “It’s started! The fraud of ‘reporter’ Relotius has now been made into ‘fake news’, or strategically fraudulent lies. The AfD will exploit this for all it is worth. That’s probably the biggest damage of the whole scandal.” The independent media journalist Stefan Niggemeier took to Twitter to express fears the case represented a “deep blow – not just for Der Spiegel, but for German journalism.” In a series of soul-searching written apologies, the magazine acknowledged the wider undermining affect Relotius’s actions will have on those striving to deliver objective, informative and well-sourced reporting.

“We are aware that the Relotius case makes the fight against fake news that much more difficult,” wrote the incoming Spiegel editor-in-chief Steffen Klusmann and deputy editor-in-chief Dirk Kurbjuweit in a joint open letter to readers. “For everyone. For other media outlets that are on our side and for citizens and politicians who are interested in an accurate portrayal of reality.”

One more link because, this is really a heavy post for a Sunday before Christmas…

The 2018 Medieval Book of the Year: The Golden Rhinoceros

Hundreds of books about the Middle Ages are published each year. They cover a vast number of topics, sometimes offering new research, sometimes retelling stories for new audiences. What makes one book stand out above the rest?

I’ve made it a habit the last few years of keeping track of as many new books about the Middle Ages as I can – a process that leads me to visit many libraries and book stories. I can’t possibly get familiar with all the works that have come out, so my choices are subjective, but I think the books mentioned below will prove to be important contributions to medieval studies. I look for those that I think will enlighten and expand our understanding of the Middle Ages, that are well written and well researched, and will have lasting significance in their field.

So, what is the book of the year?

The Golden Rhinoceros: Histories of the Africa, by François-Xavier Fauvelle, is my choice for the medieval book of the year. It’s not a particularly large book at just 264 pages, but it offers readers a great trove of topics related to the medieval history of Africa (with the exception of Egypt and the Mediterranean coast). It consists of 34 separate stories, each about six to eight pages long. They cover events between the eighth and fifteenth centuries, and zig-zag across the African continent, so you will be at first reading about Mauritania, then going to Zimbabwe, and then off to Ethiopia. Fauvelle is highly effective in giving us snapshots of life in these places, all the while acknowledging that his sources are often fragmentary and sparse.

Fauvelle’s aim in this book is to show that Africa was not mired in the ‘dark centuries’ as many historians have assumed, but was going through something more akin to a ‘golden age’ during the Middle Ages. Many of his sections reinforce the idea that merchants were flourishing in medieval Africa, with gold and slaves being sent across the continent into the Arab world, India, and even to China. Perhaps medievalists have been too focused on the connections between medieval Europe and Africa, which are very limited, and haven’t yet researched the much deeper relations between the Islamic and African worlds. Here Fauvelle offers a guide to historians on how they can learn more about Mali, Somalia or the Sahara, and the role they played in the medieval world.

Click here to read an interview with François-Xavier Fauvelle

There are a few other interesting reads that are recommended at that link, so please click over to check them out…one that even discusses emotions and sensibility in the middle ages…fascinating.

Well….I wish everyone a happy holiday, this is an open thread.

 

 


Sunday Reads: FFS, It has to stop.

 

Today’s post is a bit all over the place…so I hope you can follow it…my brain is feeling the effects of the tRump presidency and it has become almost debilitating. I feel like I have some form of OCD, there is the constant itch in my thoughts. I can’t get rid of it. Like some kind of diseased earworm that has set root deep in my mind. I cannot stop thinking about tRump and what he is destroying. Everything is crumbling before me. The itch is so bad, that I almost feel like grabbing an ice pick and jamming it in my ear. If only to get these tRumptonian thoughts out of my mind.

So let’s try and get through this thread…

China Says All Trade Progress Is Off If U.S. Imposes Tariffs – Bloomberg

All commitments made so far in talks with the U.S. over trade will be withdrawn if President Donald Trump carries out his threat to impose tariffs, China said Sunday.

While both sides reported some progress in discussions this weekend about how to reduce China’s $375 billion goods-trade surplus with the U.S., Trump’s revival last week of a plan to slap tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports has cast the talks into turmoil.

“If the U.S. rolls out trade measures including tariffs, all the agreements reached in the negotiations won’t take effect,” state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday, citing a statement from the Chinese team that met with a U.S. delegation led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Does that also include the agreements made regarding the new tRump Tower and all those convenient new trademarks Ivanka was granted…(which we will touch on in a moment.)

The Xinhua report came after Ross met Sunday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for talks that Ross called “friendly and frank, and covered some useful topics about specific export items.” At the same time as negotiators focus on technical steps to reduce the U.S. deficit, Trump’s swerve has rattled Beijing as it raises the possibility that any agreement made could be simply torn up by the president.

“China is concerned over the U.S.’s unpredictability, especially after Trump turned an about-face on tariffs,” said Gai Xinzhe, an analyst at Bank of China’s finance institute in Beijing. “Trump needs to give out more goodwill in exchange for really productive negotiations. Bluff, threat, and willful moves might work in business bargaining, but they could backfire in talks among nations.”

Yada, Yada, Yada…haven’t we heard this before? I think someone who is very fond of pantsuits brought this particular negative trait of tRump’s personality up during the debates? I don’t know…maybe I am wrong, but I know we have talked about it countless times here on the blog before that anus-lipped tangerine turd was installed in the White House.

‘Speed dating’: Critics worry Trump is already handing propaganda victories to North Korea – The Washington Post

When former president Bill Clinton traveled to North Korea in 2009 on a humanitarian mission to free two U.S. journalists, he delivered strict instructions to his team ahead of their meeting with dictator Kim Jong Il: “We’re not smiling.”

In several photos, including a formal portrait with their hosts in Pyongyang, Clinton and his aides kept their game faces on — looking serious and determined, befitting the tone of the mission, according to a person familiar with the trip.

President Trump took a decidedly different approach on Friday when he welcomed a North Korean official to the White House for the first such meeting in 18 years. Trump beamed as Kim Yong Chol — a former spy chief accused of masterminding the sinking of a South Korean navy vessel in 2010 that killed 46 sailors — presented him with a cartoonishly oversize envelope containing a letter from Kim Jong Un, the nation’s current dictator.

The two posed for a photo in the Oval Office with Trump proudly showing off the envelope — an image that White House aides promptly distributed to the public.

The warm display left some former U.S. officials who’ve negotiated with North Korea arguing that Trump had already handed Pyongyang another public relations victory before winning concessions on its nuclear program.

“No question this is speed dating,” said Christopher R. Hill, a former State Department diplomat who led the U.S. delegation in the Six-Party Talks with North Korea during the George W. Bush administration. He recalled being rebuffed in his bid to personally deliver a letter from Bush to Kim Jong Il — in a standard business-size envelope.

By contrast, Hill said, the North Koreans already “have gotten the whole enchilada” from Trump.

So tRump is fucking us with his outright dangerous display of foreign relations and execution of foreign policy…

Yeah…what else is new?

 

Did you see this bit?

 

 

I feel like we have been on some kind of hamster wheel of that replays itself every day…this cycle of tRump chaos and scandal and destruction of democracy…is leading to one thing. Desensitization.

Sort of like that opening scene in Boyz in the Hood, where the kids are desensitized to the violence in the street…as they walk home from school. Calmly explaining the process of decay in a bloody crime scene.

Which later comes to a point where the bloody scene has moved beyond this to an actual dead body lying beside a railroad track, as young teens discover the body and young adults play football. The violence and murder is no longer an issue for the young adults…the teenagers are disturbed by the smell but do not react more than that, as they too are desensitized to the fact that murder and death is a common occurrence in there everyday world.

Boyz n the Hood Turns 25 – Blog – The Film Experience

That link will give you a look at the scene…from a film critic perspective. I thought it was a good one. Like I said my post is all over today.

My point being, this is a tactic. A tRump way of controlling and manipulating things, an authoritative government…administration at work. And the media is complicit in its actions in bringing about the downfall of democracy.

 

Donald Trump Has Been Lying to the American Public, and Journalists Need to Call Him Out | Teen Vogue

President Donald Trump’s lies are well documented. PolitiFact estimated that from June 2015, when he announced his campaign, until November 2016, when he won the election, almost 70% of the things he said publicly were “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.” On May 1, The Washington Post reported that as of that date he had issued 3,001 false or misleading statements since taking office, averaging almost 6.5 a day, up from 4.9 over the first 100 days, when the newspaper first started keeping track. The president of the United States is basically an anti-reality Pez dispenser. So why does the media often avoid using the word “lie” when reporting on all of his false claims?

Lately there has been a reinvigorated conversation around labeling something a lie. The debate boils down to a question of intent: Journalists who are most cautious with the “lie” label argue that we cannot truly know Trump’s purpose for shitting on the very concept of facts. Is he working off of misinformation? Is he exaggerating with his “Art of the Deal” tactic of “truthful hyperbole”? Is he hallucinating an anthropomorphic pumpkin that is telling him what to say? We are not inside the president’s brain, they argue, and so we cannot know.

One such journalist is Maggie Haberman, a White House correspondent for The New York Times. On Sunday, May 27, she responded to criticism about her frequent refusal to use the word “lie” in her work with a series of tweets. “I have written stories about his lies, falsehoods, whoppers, half-truths, salesman-like stretches,” she tweeted. “The reality is that what he does can be hard to label because, as anyone who has worked for him will tell you in candor, he often thinks whatever he says is what’s real.” As far as I’m concerned, all of those euphemisms for “lies” still mean lies, and if, as Haberman asserts, he really believes them, then she should report that it is also possible that the president is out touch with reality.

By the way, Haberman is one of the authors of an article in the New York Times that is getting a lot of attention recently…I have more on that later on in the thread.

Duca continues:

As the leader of the country, Trump is the core source for our perception of the state of the union. Once he took office, his abusive relationship with the truth came with the official seal of the White House, and that is of crucial importance. The Trump administration is now waging an unprecedented campaign of disinformation on the American people. The president of the United States is working to undermine our shared foundation of truth so that we have no choice but to accept his version of reality.

Trump himself has reportedly admitted that this is his aim. On stage at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner on May 21, 60 Minutes host Leslie Stahl told PBS Newshouranchor Julie Woodruff that Trump told her he undermines the press so that the public will have no grasp on what is true. During an informal meeting with then candidate Trump in 2016, Stahl said, she asked Trump why he was constantly attacking the media. “He said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,’” she told Woodruff. If this is true, and those are Trump’s intentions, the endgame is to deprive journalism of any value whatsoever.

Read the rest of the piece, it brings up the Matthew Pottinger shit too….

 

Much of Trump’s war on the truth appears to be based in exploiting widespread media illiteracy among the citizenry. Journalism is not about striving to appear fair, but maintaining a rigorous objectivity for the purpose of serving the public. The ultimate allegiance of the press is to our fellow citizens. It is crucial that journalists do a better job at explaining our purpose and be radically transparent with all editorial decision-making. That means calling a lie a lie, and if we don’t, then fully providing readers with the reason why the word “lie” is not appropriate, along with context for understanding this administration’s abusive relationship with the truth.

[…]

Authoritarianism works to corrode our shared foundation of truth, pushing us to a point where we so doubt our own sanity, it becomes too much of a chore to even care what is true. Such is the goal of the Trump administration: to bombard us with so many conflicting versions of reality that we throw our hands in the air and give up on being certain about anything at all. The falsehoods, whoppers, and salesman-like stretches all come down to this: Without the truth, we have no foundation from which to resist.

Fucking Hell…

I really should end the post on that huge point alone…but there are a few other things I want to bring to your attention…real quick.:

Trump’s Lawyers, in Confidential Memo, Argue to Head Off a Historic Subpoena – The New York Times

You have probably already read the article…here are a few thoughts on it:

 

 

Since I’ve started writing this post, the tangerine turd has hit twitter again.

 

 

A few responses to that:

 

 

Philippines Duterte tells U.N. human rights expert: ‘Go to hell’ | Reuters

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has told a U.N human rights expert who said the country’s judicial independence was under threat to ‘go to hell’, warning against interference in domestic affairs.

If the UN ever sends a human rights expert to the US to check up on the obvious offenses going on at our southern border…I bet we would hear the same shit coming out of tRump’s mouth.

Let’s take a look at some more tweet shit storms:

 

 

As far as tRump using Melania’s twitter account…there is precedent:

 

 

But…keep this in mind, as BB wrote about yesterday as well…:

 

 

On Ivanka Trump and her trademarks…

 

On the New York Times Bullshit:

 

 

My head is spinning…I need to stop this post now.

This is an open thread…try to have a good day.