Bits ‘n Pieces of This ‘n That

mind-bounce.jpgMind bounce, as I call it, Grasshopper mind as our friend David calls it … whatever you call it, it is sometimes annoying, other times a good thing.  It is when your mind refuses to settle on any one topic for very long, bouncing from hither to yon, seeking to know something about everything.  I believe it is more prevalent in this, the era of Trump, for there are so many different things happening all at once that one cannot pick just one topic.  So, today I gave in to the mind bounce and instead of one single topic, I am doing a bit of this and a bit of that …


Donnie Junior …

Those who donate to the Trump campaign (yes, they are still soliciting donations, for I occasionally get an email asking for a contribution) will no doubt be happy to know where their contributions are going.  Mostly, it seems, they are being used to pay Donnie Trump Junior’s massive legal fees.  The Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports that the Trump campaign spent $267,924 on Junior’s legal fees from July through September.  The figure includes $237,924 for Junior’s personal attorney, Alan Futerfas. Another $30,000 went to Williams and Jensen, which helped Junior prepare for Congressional testimony.

And if you donated to the Republican National Committee (RNC), hoping that your contributions would help with various republican candidates’ campaigns, you have also helped Junior, for the RNC spent more than $200,000 on his legal fees, with most going to Alan Futerfas.

In total, more than a half million dollars have been spent on Junior’s legal fees for his utter ignorance when he attempted to collud with the Russians to bring Hillary Clinton down last year.  Two observations:  1) Junior isn’t too bright, but that seems to run in the family, 2) Alan Futerfas is racking up some big money from the Trumps.


More of the Harvey Weinstein show …

Once the sexual harassment claims against Harvey Weinstein became public, it was like an avalanche, with one, then another finally feeling free to speak up.  Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie were among the two most well-known.  Last week, it was announced that Weinstein had been expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Some actors, such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are scrambling to distance themselves from Weinstein and claiming to have had no prior knowledge of his exploits.

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Woody Allen & Harvey Weinstein

On the other side, however, there is Woody Allen, the comedian who was accused, but never convicted of sexually abusing his step daughter. Allen referred to the Weinstein case as a ‘witch hunt’.  (Hmmmm … where have I heard that term before?)  Allen called “the whole Harvey Weinstein thing” a situation that is “very sad for everybody involved. Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up.”

I initially said that I did not believe Weinstein would ever see the inside of a jail cell, but now I’m not so sure.  He just might, and personally I hope he does.


Up … Down … Either way, Trump wants credit

up-downWhen the stock market soared earlier this year, Trump claimed sole credit. The reasons for the surge, of course, are more complex and largely have less to do with Trump than he would have us believe.  But last week, Trump announced a new health care policy in which the federal government will halt its practice of paying insurance companies for subsidizing health care for low-income people, effectively shafting some 20 million people. Insurance stocks plummeted, and Trump claims proudly that this, too, signals his success.

“Health Insurance stocks, which have gone through the roof during the ObamaCare years, plunged yesterday after I ended their Dems windfall!”

Does this ‘man’ not understand anything? Does he think that only democrats own stock in insurance companies?  Or does he think that all the lower income people who were beneficiaries of the insurance subsidies are democrats?  And, given that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that his stroke of the pen will increase the federal deficit by $21 billion by 2020, does he not realize … oh, never mind … of course he does not …


A lack of respect …

In the 10 days since four Green Berets were ambushed and killed in Niger, President Donald Trump has used his Twitter account to attack a sports commentator, call for a curtailing of the free press, denigrate his political enemies, sell a book, draw attention to Vice President Mike Pence’s public protest at taxpayers’ expense, and congratulate himself for a job well done.

green beret.jpgYet he’s failed to say anything about the four U.S. service members killed in Western Africa: Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, and Sgt. La David Johnson. About a dozen troops were ambushed on Oct. 4 while on a joint patrol with Nigerien troops; five Nigerien soldiers were also killed. This marks the deadliest-yet engagement for U.S. troops since Trump took office, and yet Trump himself has issued no tweets or personal statements about the matter, 10 days after the fact.


And yet another climate-change denier enters the White House …

Last Thursday, Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Ms. White not only denies that man’s contribution to a changing climate is destroying our environment, but she actually claims to believe that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for humanity!!!

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She has described efforts to combat climate change as primarily an attack on the fossil fuel industry. Christy Goldfuss, who served as managing director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Barack Obama, said …

“Her views are so out of the mainstream, it’s almost as if she falls in kind of a flat earth category. Her number one task is to rip and throw out the environmental laws that this whole country has come to accept as standards and norms.”

Let us hope that the Senate will have enough sense not to confirm this nominee!

I envision the job ad for any position in the Trump administration as including a line that reads: “only liars and people with an IQ of less than 50 will be considered.”


Thus concludes the detritus from the bouncing mind of Filosofa for today!  Now, perhaps since I got all that out of my head, I can focus?  Have a great day, folks!spider

Filosofa Returns — With Bits ‘N Pieces

Dearest Readers!  Thank you all for the many well-wishes for my weekend hiatus!  I had a great weekend … no car troubles, no injuries, just a nice, relaxing weekend!  I missed you guys, missed your comments that sometimes make me think, other times make me laugh!  I am now back home, safe and sound, although I DID manage to get lost just ten miles from home!!! I am blaming that one on heavy traffic and not being able to get into the lane I needed to be in.  Still, one might think that since I have lived in this area for more than 20 years, I could find my way around!  I am directionally challenged.

I have been responding to comments this evening, and I apologize that my responses are perhaps not as in-depth as usual, but I wanted to get caught up on that tonight and I had four days’ worth to catch up, so I did not expound as much as I might have another time.  I will be working over the next several days to get caught up reading your posts, so be patient.  Meanwhile, since I am not likely to write a full post tonight, a few snippets from the weekend news:

  • I was saddened to hear of the death of entertainment legend Jerry Lewis on Sunday at age 91.  The official cause of death was ischemic cardiomyopathy, which occurs when the heart becomes unable to pump sufficient blood through the rest of the body due to a coronary artery disease. I did not realize that Mr. Lewis had suffered three heart attacks during his lifetime, the first when he was only 34 years old.  He also had Type I diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, had battled prostate cancer and a fall during a Las Vegas show in 1965 nearly paralyzed him.  He was best known as a comedian, having received several awards for lifetime achievement from the American Comedy Awards, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Venice Film Festival and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and was honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But what set Jerry Lewis apart was his humanitarian work. He supported fund-raising for research into muscular dystrophy, as well as many other causes that go beyond what I could possibly cover in this snippet.  He was a fine entertainer and a good human being who will be missed on this earth.  Rest in Peace, Jerry. jerry-lewis-2

  • So, I heard that Steve Bannon is out of Trump’s administration. I received no less than three messages within an hour of the announcement.  Of course, given Bannon’s ideology, I am glad he is out.  That still leaves Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka, of course, but Bannon was, I felt, the biggest threat and from time to time I even wondered if he wasn’t, perhaps, the puppeteer.  But I think there is more to this than meets the eye.  On August 7th, more than a week before his ouster, Bannon contacted Breitbart to let them know he would be returning.  And he made a comment that he can do more good on the outside than on the inside.  I am not sure what I suspect, but I am suspicious of … something.  When I’ve had time to study and ponder it more, I’ll try to clarify my suspicions.

  • You know those annoying ‘speed bumps’ that are intended to slow drivers down in areas where children may be playing, or raccoons dancing in the street, or whatever? We have two on our street and they are annoying, but if they slow traffic down, I’m all for them, for here in da hood, we do have large numbers of children playing, riding bikes and skateboards in the middle of the street.  Well anyway, the Brits have come up with “illusory speed bumps”!  According to a report in the Guardian, “They are painted humps on the road: white arcs, about a metre wide, like slightly asymmetrical Vs that, by the miracle of perspective, fool the eye into seeing them as looming out of the tarmac as drivers approach.”  Sure would save wear and tear on one’s suspension system if they work! speed bumps.jpg

  • The Great American Eclipse. They hyped it for two months.  A total eclipse – 99.4% they said.  As I mentioned last week, I was a bit nervous about driving home from Pennsylvania on Monday, because I feared it would become pitch dark and I would not be able to see.  I drove, and I drove, and I wondered when it was to happen.  I noted that the day had become slightly darker, but there were clouds overhead, so that could explain it.  That was it … it got, maybe 5-7 degrees darker.  When I got home, I asked Miss Goose if it had been spectacular here.  Nope … just got slightly darker.  While relieved that I didn’t have to find a place to stop for an hour or so, I am somewhat disappointed. They ought not to have built up so much suspense.  Was it a spectacular thing where any of you live?  solar eclipse

  • Headline news in both today’s New York Times and The Washington Post is that Trump briefly looked up at the sun without protective glasses today. I ask you:  a) does anybody care?; b) so what – he’s already blind in the ways that matter?; and c) why is every bloomin’ thing the man does considered ‘newsworthy’?  Next we’ll be hearing what he eats for dinner each night and what time he poops! Sheesh. not-too-bright

And on that note, I have emails to answer, a suitcase to unpack, and am shooting for a (relatively) early bedtime tonight, as nine straight hours of driving today has just about done me in!  Thanks again, dear friends, and I will be back on my regular schedule by the end of the day!

 

A Peek Inside Of Filosofa’s Mind-Bounce

Well, I cannot seem to settle into a topic tonight.  There is too much to write about, too many ‘goings-on’, and my mind seems to be on overload.  So, forgive me if I indulge in a bit of mind-bounce, but that may be my only hope for regaining a degree of focus.

I try very hard to avoid commenting on ignorant political opinions and ridiculous memes on social media.  I try, I tell you … I really do.  And usually I am successful, for I have too much to do to waste my time on it.  However, as I mentioned, tonight my mind is all askew, and I was just cruising around on Facebook, hoping a bit of a break might stop the mind-bounce.  And I came across an extremely bigoted rant against the religion of Islam and its followers.  The writer claimed that Islam is “pure evil” and that we needed to get rid of Sharia Law in the U.S.  Well, as you can imagine, that set me off (mind bounce is often accompanied by enhanced irascibility) and I, against my better judgment, took off my shoes and jumped into the fray.

You would have been proud of me … I responded with intellect and quiet dignity, even when asked what planet I had come from and if I had been asleep all my life.  I stayed only a short time, enough for two or three well-placed comments, and then I left the conversation and turned off notifications so that I would not be tempted again.  But it made me start thinking about the bigotry and hate we are seeing, most of which is based on sheer ignorance.  A few of the comments that stood out, that spoke volumes about the mentality we are dealing with here:

“Outlaw all Muslim activities and people from our country,they have millions of acres of land in their own part of the world ,send them back ,declare this a Christian country”

“it’s not right ,it’s a mental illness that should be treated as such, all these types of people will eventually implode ,they will poison the minds of innocent children and most likely at some point molest someone ,and/or kill themselves or others”

“Harry too many liberals that don’t understand something when they read it ,or what it was supposed to convey ,they just steer away from it to their liberalism”

All comments reproduced “as is” without corrections.

To be sure, there were others who, like myself, tried to educate, to enlighten, to make the haters at least stop and think, but a handful insisted that they were right, everybody else was wrong, and just as I exited, it was becoming a vulgar free-for-all.  There is no value in such an exchange, and this is not a conversation or even a dialogue … it is simply sport.  Blood-sport, at that.

Which led me to thinking about red hair.  (I told you … mind-bounce)  Well, I was wondering if perhaps there is something in the lack of skin pigmentation, or in something in the water they drank, that gave them this tendency toward bigotry.  Are there certain physical traits that indicate mental traits?  And that brings us to the red hair connection.  It is said that people with red hair have shorter tempers.  Is it true? Well, I didn’t find any definitive answer, but I did discover that redheads get cold quicker and feel pain more acutely.  Okay … a snack is needed … something without sugar …

AHA  ….

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Coffee-nut m&ms … no sugar here, right?

Do you know what Kellyanne Conway, America’s #1 Bimbo, makes per year in salary alone?  $179,700.  Nearly a quarter of a million dollars per year.  For … being a mouthpiece, and a bad one at that.  For making up lies to cover Trump’s exposed posterior. For being obnoxious and mostly wrong.  $179,700!!!!!!! More than three times what I made in my highest earnings year!

So, Senator Ron Johnson, a republican (of course) from Wisconsin intimated on a radio show on Wednesday that Senator John McCain’s “nay” vote on the proposed healthcare bill before the Senate last month, may have been a result of his brain tumour.  The radio show host was notably taken aback and asked Johnson if, in fact, he really believed what he was saying.  His reply: “I-I-I don’t know exactly what — we really thought — and again I don’t want speak for any senator. I really thought he was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30 (a.m.), he voted no.”  Stuttering … genuine embarrassment?  I was looking a bit into Johnson’s background to see if there are enough of these moments to qualify him as Idiot of the Week.  Maybe …

And here is another …

Lindsey Graham … from time to time I have actually had reason to respect Senator Graham, but not today.  Last Tuesday (August 1st) Lindsey appeared on NBC’s Today show with Matt Lauer.  Here is what he said that set my teeth on edge:

“If there’s going to be a war to stop [Kim Jong-un], it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And [Trump] told me that to my face. That may be provocative, but not really. When you’re president of the United States, where does your allegiance lie? To the people of the United States.”

Somebody PLEASE tell me he didn’t really say that!  Lindsey Graham is now, in my book, a bloomin’ DOLT.  People.  They are people.  We are people.  Trump and Graham are thinking it’s okay if hundreds of thousands of innocent people die, just so long as it isn’t on U.S. soil?  Think about that one for a few minutes, friends.

Earlier today, dear Roger told me to seek my ‘soft and quiet corner’ and rest there.  I told him my soft and quiet corner was filled with nails and shards of glass.  I now understand where those nails and glass shards are coming from.  And now, dear friends, I believe I shall go give my corner a good cleaning and spend a few hours there, away from the madness and mayhem. And in my next life, I am going to be a wolf, for I do not much care for the human race any more.

 

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Bits ‘N Pieces – A Handful of Idiot Wannabes

Today is one of those days that I’m tired, cranky, and busy with such things as baking pies, boiling eggs, laundry, etc., but a few short snippets crossed my radar and I thought I would just do a few bit’s ‘n pieces for tomorrow’s morning post.  I warn you … these people will have you shaking your heads and rolling your eyes!


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Judge Thomas Low

Down in Provo, Utah, in the Fourth District Court, sits a judge, Judge Thomas Low.  Last week, he issued sentencing on a case before him, the case of one Keith Vallejo, a former bishop to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Vallejo was convicted in February of one first-degree felony of object rape and 10 second-degree felonies of forcible sexual abuse.  Nice guy, huh?  Well, here is what Judge Low had to say about Vallejo:

“The court had no doubt that Mr. Vallejo is an extraordinarily good man. But great men, sometimes do bad things.”

The victims, two of whom were in the courtroom at the time, were understandably incensed by the judge’s praise of their abuser.  “For him to say that in a court room in front the victim who was abused and raped by this man, that he is a great person, to me was unacceptable and unprofessional,” said victim Julia Kirby.

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Keith Vallejo

Vallejo was sentenced to five years to life, and his first chance for parole will come in about eight years. Civil rights group Restore Our Humanity is preparing to file a complaint against Judge Low.


Jones

Sheriff Richard K. Jones

In Butler County, Ohio, a northern suburb of Cincinnati, there is a sheriff, Sheriff Richard K. Jones.  Jones has been a controversial figure in Butler County for years, mainly because of his immigration stance and racial profiling.  But this week … this week he made the most idiotic tweet …

Jones tweet

Some may have thought he was joking, but he was not.  He truly wants Trump to order the same type of bomb that was dropped on Afghanistan last week be dropped on Mexico … our ally!!! You will not be surprised to know that Jones is a staunch Trump supporter.


Back to Texas, a state that seems to occupy a permanent slot on my radar.  Texas Representative Ron Simmons is the author of a bill that will be heard next week that would rescind several local ordinances aimed at protecting LGBT people from discrimination.  Sigh.  Do these lawmakers never learn?

ron-simmons.png

The bill, House Bill 2899, would prohibit cities and counties from passing non-discrimination ordinances and would not allow them to add or subtract to the classes of people already protected under state law. State law currently limits protections based on race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin and age.


Remember when Trump, back during his less-than-illustrious campaign, told supporters to throw protestors out and in at least one case, said he would pay the supporters’ legal bills?  Well, meet Alvin Bamberger, age 76, and a Korean War veteran from Ohio.  Bamberger was accused of assaulting a woman, Kashiya Nwanguma, at a Trump campaign rally in Louisville, Kentucky last year.  Bamberger initially denied that he shoved Nwanguma, but unfortunately for him, there is video  that quite clearly shows him shoving her not once, but multiple times, as did other men.

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Now Bamberger and his attorneys are expecting Trump to make good on his promise to pay legal fees, and have filed a lawsuit.

“To the extent that Bamberger acted, he did so in response to — and inspired by — Trump and/or the Trump campaign’s urging to remove the protesters. If Bamberger is adjudged liable to Nwanguma for his actions, Trump and/or the Trump campaign should be adjudged liable to Bamberger in an equal sum, because Trump and/or the Trump campaign urged and inspired Bamberger to act as he did.”

Trump, predictably, is not taking this lying down.  With some 4,000 lawsuits under his belt, he is a pro at the finagling that ties things up in court until everyone who ever cared either dies or loses interest.  Trump’s lawyers, in response to Bamberger’s suit, said “Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States.”  Attorney Greg Belzley, however, reminds us of a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that held President Bill Clinton could be sued over events that occurred before he took office.

Earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers attempted to have the suit thrown out, but U.S. District Judge David Hale said it’s plausible the would-be President incited a riot. He denied motions to dismiss or strike portions of the complaint.  This will be one to watch!


And thus concludes my bits ‘n pieces.  These are all idiots in their own right, but I don’t have enough on them to award them the Idiot of the Week award.  Have a Happy Easter, dear friends!

Easter-egg

More Bits ‘n Pieces on a Sunday Afternoon

Today I am disinclined to delve deeply into the political underworld of the moment, partly because I have a lot to do today that does not involve sitting at the computer for hours on end digging for information … we are sharing dinner tonight with our friends next door, and I already have a roast in the crock pot and will soon need to bake bread, prepare veggies for roasting, and make something for dessert.  But also because I have a few tidbits I wanted to touch on briefly.  So, no new insight and depth from the mind of Filosofa today … just … bits ‘n pieces.


Daylight Savings Time

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This morning at 2:00 a.m., many of us set the clocks ahead by one hour, thus giving up an hour of our lives.  Many see it as an hour of lost sleep and will grumble for the next 3-4 weeks that they are still sleep-deprived.  Personally, I see it as an hour of lost productivity time, as lately I find sleep to be far over-rated anyway.  I don’t mind the time change, though admittedly for a week or two I always feel that I am late in doing something or another, but the value of seeing the sun shine later into the evening makes me happy enough to offset any other angst. As for the re-setting of the clocks … well, suffice it to say that the clock in my bathroom is now displaying the correct time for the first time since November!  It is a difficult clock to rehang once the time has been re-set, so this year I just left it alone, and knew to subtract an hour whenever I stepped out of the shower.  There is actually a positive spin to this, as one steps out of the shower, thinks “oh heck, it’s already 11:00”, but then realizes that, in fact, it is only 10:00 and feels as if they are actually ahead of the game.  Whatever the game is.

dst-1So why does daylight savings time exist?  No, not to torment those who like their sleep.  The idea was first advocated seriously by London builder William Willett in the pamphlet, Waste of Daylight (1907), that proposed advancing clocks 20 minutes on each of four Sundays in April, and retarding them by the same amount on four Sundays in September. And you thought changing them once was a pain???  Daylight savings time has a long an fascinating history, which is far too much for me to relate, but you can read it here.  Suffice it to say that its usefulness in practical terms came about in the 1970s as a result of the energy crisis. Studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1975 showed that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country’s electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.  This may not be the case for those of us who are night owls and tend to work or play well into the next day, but perhaps for the rest of the world.

dst-3Interestingly, until recently only about 16% of counties in Indiana observed daylight savings time.  The reason?  The cows … and chickens.  Indiana is an agricultural state, and the farmers found that if they changed the milking and egg-gathering times by an hour, the cows gave less milk and the chickens produced fewer eggs, so they balked and generally refused to change their clocks twice a year.  To add to the confusion, Hoosiers don’t refer to it as daylight savings time or central standard time, they refer to it as ‘slow time’ and ‘fast time’.  To this day I am not sure which is which!  And, if you are driving through the state, it might be 2:00 where you are now, then a mile down the road it’s 3:00, then a few more miles and it’s back to 2:00.  All very confusing!

Remember, if you will, that time is a man-made contrivance anyway.  Nature and the animal kingdom simply operate on instinct, weather, when the sun comes up, etc., and humans are the ONLY species that cares what the round thingy on the wall says!  Leave it to mankind to take something simple and make it complex.


Filosofa has a new phone!

new-phoneI have been grumbling about needing a new phone for more than a year now, but dreaded actually getting one because of all the hassle involved with getting settings, apps, etc. set up just the way I wanted them.  PLUS … today’s technology confounds my old brain and I have no clue what half the stuff on the new-fangled phones is even supposed to do.  But yesterday I finally bit the bullet and bought a new phone.  I found the key to making the process relatively painless:  tell your grandchild what you want the phone to do, how you want it to do it, then let her pick out just the right phone for you!  Then, when you get home with it, let her set up the apps and adjust the settings!

Thus far, I am quite happy with my new phone … I can actually SEE the words and icons on it, the ringtone is loud enough for me to hear, and it is functioning quite well.  Oh yes, and it also tells me, any time I touch it, the date, time and weather!  When we arrived at the Verizon store, the salesman, who was very helpful, by the way, asked for my old phone, and when I handed it to him, he simply shook his head, rolled his eyes, and asked how long I had had this ‘relic’.  I explained to him that I am a frugal person, I drive cars until they die, I keep electronic devices until they no longer function, and I still have many of the first pots ‘n pans I ever owned.  I am of the old school that believes in keeping things as long as they work.  My one exception to that is laptops, which I do replace fairly often, because the technology changes so fast that older machines become almost dysfunctional within about two years.

At any rate … I am happy with my phone, for the first time in years (I never did quite cozy up to my old LG), and many, many thanks to Miss Natasha for her hours of research and for serving as my translator at the Verizon store yesterday!


Well, I thought there were more bits ‘n pieces floating around in my mind, but I don’t quite remember what they were, and my word count is already over 1,000, so I shall go knead some bread dough, peel some veggies, fold some laundry and leave you with just one final thought:  tomorrow is Monday!

Filosofa’s Late Night Bits ‘n Pieces

Every now and then, I have several things on my mind, but none major enough to fill an entire post.  When that happens, I write a post like this … just a compilation of bits of this and scraps of that.  Such is the case tonight.  I am currently at work on a couple of longer posts, but not able to focus enough to finish them tonight, so … here are some of the bits ‘n pieces from the corners of my mind.

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Filosofa falls out of favour with the White House …

white-houseI think I am no longer a ‘friend’ of the White House.  Back in January, shortly after the inauguration, I wanted to share one of my posts with Donald Trump.  In the past, before he took the oath of office, I frequently posted a link to some of my posts that I thought he should see on his Twitter feed, but now that he was in office, I really wanted to ensure that he would read every word, so I tried to send it through the usual channel of ‘whitehouse.gov’.  But I received a message back saying that was no longer an option, and giving me another site on which I could send a letter to him.  Well, that became problematic because it would only allow about half the word count of my post, so I started trimming excess verbage and cut it down to size.

The next day I began receiving daily updates via email from the White House.  They went to my spam folder, which was fine by me, since all they were was propaganda about all the “wonderful” things going on in the administration, and other sickening ‘alternative facts’.  But every now and then, I would read one, especially if I was feeling a bit too good and needed to become nauseous.  Then one day, about two weeks ago, there was an email asking me to take a short survey.  Well, I’m not into “short” surveys, partly because they are rarely short and most always annoying, and because my time is valuable.  But this time, I thought I would just check it out.  I did not keep a copy, but have found it replicated online.  There are only two questions, and I think you can still submit the online form at this address, though I am not sure.  In addition to the two ‘select all that apply’ questions, there is a box to ‘share your ideas to make America great again’.  This is where I took the opportunity to share a piece of my mind.  I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I know that it included comments about racial and religious equality, valuing our immigrants, tolerance, and the usual things I tend to go on about.  I no longer receive daily emails from the White House.  Gee … was it something I said?


The mystery of why Carson was chosen to lead HUD is solved … maybe …

In regards to Trump’s cabinet picks … with the first announcements of who he was planning to nominate, long before he took the oath on January 20th, I wondered if he just sought the person least qualified for the job in order to show us that he could, or if there was some devious method to his madness.  Once I became convinced of the power Steve Bannon holds, I became more and more convinced that his choices were not just random poor choices, but poor choices with intent.  This evening’s headline further convinced me.

Two days ago, I wrote a post titled Idiot of the Week – Dr. Ben Carson.  I noted that Carson is severely under-qualified for the job, but being by now somewhat inured to Trump’s really bad choices, I failed to ask the question: why?  Why Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development?  Even had I asked that question, I likely would have concluded that either, a) he is to be the token black, or b) it is repayment for Carson selling his integrity by endorsing Trump last March.

Today, however, I am convinced there is another reason.  The Washington Post headline reads:

Trump Administration Considers $6 Billion Cut to HUD Budget

Trump plans to cut the $47 billion dollar HUD budget by $6 billion, or 13%.  Another person, a person of integrity and knowledge of the department and its functions, would fight hard against a cut of 13%, but don’t look for Dr. Ben Carson to raise so much as a soft-spoken, polite objection.  Dr. Ben Carson was put into that position to not make waves, but to sit back, accept his nearly $200,000 a year salary, and do what ‘big daddy’ tells him to do.  He is a highly paid yes-man.  As with other areas, the cuts will hurt those in lower income brackets.  It is still early, and while there is speculation about where the cuts would take place, I will not engage in such speculation, but merely remind the reader that HUD is responsible for providing rental assistance, overseeing public housing and community development, insuring mortgages of more than 20% of all homeowners, and enforcing fair housing laws that bar racial discrimination by lenders and landlords. Whichever of these programs get short-sheeted, it will hurt the poor and lower income people.  But let us not lose sight of the “greater purpose” … to increase a military budget that already far exceeds that of any other nation on the globe.


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Is Harvard Law School lowering their standards?

There has always been a certain level of prestige in a Harvard Law School degree.  Harvard has always been known for its strict standards, but that may be changing.  For 70 years, students wishing to be accepted into Harvard Law were required to pass the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), designed to gauge students’ ability to learn the law.  Beginning this fall, Harvard Law School will allow applicants to submit their scores from either the LSAT or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). While both are stringent tests, the LSAT is geared more toward law students, more a test of your reasoning skills than your subject knowledge (in math and verbal).

Perhaps this is a minor change, in the grand scheme of law school requirements, but in my mind, it is yet another step in the “dumbing down of America”.  The change is said to be part of a broader strategy at the school to expand access. I am all for expanding access to higher education, but my fear is that the next steps may be to lower the standards by which a student may graduate, law degree in hand.

As reported by U.S. News and World Report last May, there has been the significant drop in the number of law school applicants. The number of applicants dropped from 87,900 for fall 2010 admission to 54,500 for fall 2015.  Presumably this is the driving force behind Harvard Law’s decision, but what will be the next step?  The U.S. has fallen woefully behind in the quality of education as compared to other industrialized nations … is this the first step toward dropping our standards even lower?


Thus concludes the little things that were bouncing around in my webby mind.  Perhaps now I can focus on some of the bigger issues!

Bits of Nothingness from Filosofa’s Mind

“Mindwandering (sometimes referred to as task-unrelated thought) is the experience of thoughts not remaining on a single topic for a long period of time, particularly when people are engaged in an attention-demanding task.”

mind-1Today is rather a sad day, President Barack Obama’s last full day in office.  Even if he were being replaced by an equally dignified, intellectual person, I would still be feeling, as I think many are today, a bit of nostalgia.  But to see the next occupant of the White House, a man who cannot speak well, who is a loud, insufferable bully, replace a well-spoken, intelligent law professor … it’s just too much, too sad.  So, to cheer myself today, and hopefully take your minds off politics and world affairs for a few minutes at least, I have decided to just let my mind wander where it will for this post.  Might be funny, might leave you simply shaking your head.  My mind, rarely let off its leash, is a strange creature …

keysI was thinking about keys this morning.  Why?  Because my keyring was residing on my nightstand, which is NOT where it belongs, and I was lying back against the headboard of the bed, just too tired to get up, yet knowing I shouldn’t go back to sleep.  So, I noticed my keyring on the nightstand.  My keyring, prior to my retirement in 2008, held many keys, in fact it was so heavy that periodically it made holes in my pockets.  I had a key to the outer building, to my own office, to the vault, to my bosses office, the mailroom, as well as my personal keys: house, car, mailbox.  Now my keyring holds a single key, the key to the house.  Until a year or so ago, I at least had three keys, but my granddaughter took over the task of checking the mail every day, so I transferred that key to her keyring.  Then I sold my 25-year-old car for $40 (it was dead anyway), and there went another key.  Now … just the house key.  But that’s okay, because my keyring no longer makes holes in my pockets!

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And speaking of keys … a few weeks ago, actually shortly before Christmas, I took my daughter’s Saturn out to do a bit of shopping.  It is a medium shade of grey, and has a clicker thing-a-ma-jig with buttons to unlock the car.  So, distracted as my mind usually is, I came out of a store … walked to the car and hit the button with a picture of an open lock.  Nothing happened.  I clicked it again.  Still nothing.  Looking into the car, I noticed a child’s car seat, and thought … “Hmmmm – I wonder what that’s doing in here? (we have no young children, thus do not own a car seat)” Clicked the button again, still nothing.  Then a voice behind me says, “You can stand there and press that button all day, but it won’t open that car, because it’s my car.”  Oops!  Wouldn’t you think the car seat would have given me a clue?  I apologized, and luckily for me she was understanding, and we even laughed over it.  I actually did the same thing a week or two ago, but the car I slid into was unlocked, and as soon as I sat down in the driver’s seat I realized it wasn’t mine.  I really do need to stop and think sometimes.

lemonsSometimes it takes very little to add a spot of happiness to a person’s day.  Last night, that very little thing was soap.  Liquid soap, specifically.  We use liquid soap in bathrooms and also in the kitchen.  Once every three months we replenish our stash, as it were, and buy a variety of scents.  I am partial to citrus-y smelling things, while the girls like floral, strawberry, and other scents.  Anyway, we go through a lot of liquid soap and last night the pine-scented one in the kitchen squirted its final drops and it was time to crack open a new bottle.  The lemon smell … somehow brought a smile to my face, and I washed my hands yet a second time, just to smell the lemon for a little longer.  It takes very little to make me happy … sometimes, at least.

And thinking of the lemon soap reminds me that I need to toss a load of laundry into the dryer, unload the dishwasher, and do a few other chores, so I shall finish this senseless rambling and give you a few cartoons to brighten your day just a bit.  Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a good day … try not to let things get you down …

I have a funny story to go with this first cartoon.  Many years ago, a new restaurant had opened, and I was looking online at their menu, to see if they had anything that would make us want to try it out.  I saw Crab Rangoon on the menu, which is a favourite of mine, so I excitedly said to my daughter that we simply had to check out this restaurant, because they serve Crab Rangoon.  She mis-heard me (there is a LOT of that in our family!) and thought I said Cracked Raccoon … which of course led to much laughter and to this day, we all call it that.

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Black Friday

I was planning to write a post about Black Friday. But then I came across this … my blogger-friend Jack from across the pond (UK) wrote this one, and I found it both humorous and insightful in how some of our Brit friends view our customs and idiosyncrasies, so I decided to share this instead of writing one. Please take a minute to read Jack’s post and drop him a comment with your thoughts! Thank you, Jack, for permission to share your humour!

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Today in America it’s all about shopping.

b5tr9uvigaaduqgThe Friday after Thanksgiving, is the start of the Christmas shopping season in the United States.  Some say the reason it’s called Black Friday is because this is the day retailers in the USA start to turn a profit for the year.  All I know is that if I was made to go shopping to Macy’s, JC Penney, Saks, Sears, or Wal-Mart, or anywhere else come to that, at some unearthly hour the day after Thanksgiving, then I’d be in a pretty black mood by the close of play.  Most manly men don’t go for the frenzy of naked consumerism and implausible bargains on offer today.

dscf0015Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving in England, most retail outlets here are trying to introduce the idea of ‘Black Friday Shopping’ to the English.  Like most hideous things which cross the Atlantic from West to East, (American…

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A Bit of This, A Tad of That, and A Smidge of the Other

Every now and then, I have many small stories on my radar that I want to share or comment upon, but none large enough for an entire post.  So, I do a sort of ‘aggregate post’, tidbits, as it were.  Today is such a day.  Some are follow-up to previous posts, others just snippets that floated before my eyes. So let the fun begin!


Follow-up on Gary Johnson’s Aleppo and foreign leaders gaffe

johnsonYou may remember just a few days ago, I wrote a post in which I mentioned that 3rd party candidate Gary Johnson did not know what or where Aleppo was, and was also unable to name a single foreign leader.  Well, he spun that one, folks!  His spin was that it is, in fact, a good thing for a president to not know where foreign countries are, because then he cannot find them, thus he cannot get involved with them.  Huh? 

On Tuesday, he told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that his lack of knowledge of foreign policy could in fact be a selling point.

“The fact that somebody can dot the I’s and cross the T’s on a foreign leader or a geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s ways.”

He then observed that the U.S. military has been involved in “both sides” of conflicts, adding that “we wonder why our men and servicewomen suffer from PSD [sic] in the first place. It’s because we elect people who can can dot the I’s and cross the T’s on these names and geographic locations, as opposed to the underlying philosophy, which is ‘Let’s stop getting involved in these regime changes.’”  I repeat … Huh?  Subtitle:  If I can’t find it, I can’t bomb it.

https://thinkprogress.org/gary-johnson-foreign-policy-geography-ignorance-873ec1794d53#.vwro2flwy


 Not all Hoosiers are like this …

Last Saturday was the much-anticipated Farmer’s Fair Parade in the small town of Aurora, Indiana, just east of Cincinnati, Ohio.  There were the usual … floats, food, music … a good time for all, right?  But one of the floats depicted Donald Trump throwing the switch on Hillary Clinton in an electric chair and President Obama as an Easter Island figure with an oversized head. It was also adorned with Trump/Pence campaign signs.
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The theme of the parade was “Celebrating the Past, Embracing the Future.” The parade is sponsored by the Aurora Lion’s Club, and according to the rules and regulations, fair officials “reserve the right to reject or evict any entry from the parade line-up that they deem unsuitable.”  How did they NOT find this to be inappropriate???  Has Trump done such a thorough job in brainwashing these people that they really think this is ‘okay’?
linkmeyerMost residents were incensed and many took to Facebook to make their feelings known, while others phoned parade organizers and city officials to complain.  Most all agreed that it was racist and sexist, and in extremely poor taste, especially given that there are many young children viewing the parade. A few, though, saw nothing wrong with it.  That includes the creator of the float, one Frank Linkmeyer, who says he didn’t mean to offend anyone and was just having fun.  If this is somebody’s idea of fun, pardon me for saying it, but there is something seriously wrong with the wiring schema in his brain!

http://www.wcpo.com/news/region-indiana/dearborn-county/parade-float-depicting-trump-executing-clinton-in-electric-chair-raises-protests-in-indiana


Follow-up on Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte

“Instead of helping us, the first to hit was the State Department. So you can go to hell, Mr Obama, you can go to hell,” said President Duterte on Tuesday.

 “Although it may sound shit to you, it is my sacred duty to keep the integrity of this republic and the people healthy,” Duterte said.

“If you don’t want to sell arms, I’ll go to Russia. I sent the generals to Russia and Russia said ‘do not worry, we have everything you need, we’ll give it to you’.

“And as for China, they said ‘just come over and sign and everything will be delivered’.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “Those comments are at odds with the warm relationship that exists between the Filipino and American people.”  You think?

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/rodrigo-duterte-philippines-josh-earnest-229110?cmpid=sf


Even the gentlest of men has had enough …

keillor-2Garrison Keillor is an author, storyteller, humorist, radio actor, voice actor, and radio personality. He is best known as the creator of the Minnesota Public Radio show A Prairie Home Companion.  His style, whether in radio or print, is rather simplistic, down-to-earth, and peaceful.  However, he wrote a guest column in The Washington Post that I think is a must-read!  Here is just the first part:

 

The question no one is asking about Donald Trump

By Garrison Keillor

Eighteen years? He paid no taxes?

Are you sure this is standard practice?

No wonder he won’t release his returns.

The bigger the losses, the more he earns.

Airline, Trump U, and casinos

All went belly-up but he knows

Loss is gain. My projection:

He’ll make money from a lost election.

It’s been one first after another. First candidate to offer a health plan described only as really “beautiful” and “unbelievable.” First ever to brag about his penis. First to be endorsed by the National Enquirer. First to have gone through six bankruptcies. First to say about his opponent’s TV ads: “It’s not nice. And I don’t deserve that.” Did Barry Goldwater say of LBJ “He’s not nice to me”? I frankly doubt it very much. And what candidate has seen his name so often in the same sentence with Mussolini’s?

You absolutely must read the entire article … it is priceless!

Apparently a Mr. Tom Decker in St. Augustine, Florida, was offended by Mr. Keillor’s column, and he responded, in part:

“Dear Garrison: Why such an attack on Donald Trump? So nasty!

I thought you were one of those gentle country folk whom you talk (and write) about in that Woebegone Lake and who would never stoop to such low blows! What revenge are you seeking, if any? What did he ever do to you?

Your letter has the same tone as the diatribes usually heard from liberal media pundits. You dump on him personally, and your dump isn’t worth much, either. You obviously have no idea why he is so popular and is giving your felonious candidate a run for her money.”

If you are of a mind to, you can read his letter in its entirety.


And the next bankruptcy …

Last but not least, Mr. Keillor’s comment about Trump’s new hotel roused my curiosity, so I went in search of, and I found that, Mr. Trump’s new Washington, D.C. hotel is not doing too well.  Elizabeth Williamson, writing for the New York Times, recently visited the hotel.  She said the hotel was nearly empty, and rates had dropped by 50% just in the last week.

“I asked a waiter if the place was busy. “Not yet,” he replied. “But it’s going to be crazy if he wins. I mean, it’s going to be crazy no matter what. We are going to have, like, a thousand holiday parties booked in this place,” he said, sounding a bit like the nominee.

Are all the good holiday party dates taken? “Not yet,” he said.”

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Apparently the restaurant, which seats 120, had 17 diners on the day Ms. Williamson visited.  Turns out, they were not customers, but employees.  Uh-oh … can anybody predict Mr. Trump’s next bankruptcy?

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/24/opinion/donald-trumps-shiny-new-washington-hotel.html?_r=0


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Okay, folks, I think that those are all the little tidbits that were floating on my radar screen tonight!  Perhaps now my mind can stop spinning.  As always, thanks for reading, feel free to comment, and I’ll be back with more this evening!

Bíodh Dé Luain joyous!

monday-5Merry Monday to all and to all a … oops … I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here.  A few mornings ago I awoke in a panic … I thought I had waited too late to buy the Thanksgiving turkey and now I would never get it thawed in time!  I am not kidding when I say panic … my heart was racing!  As the haze of sleep faded from my brain, I was able to remind myself that it was not yet even October, and the turkey could wait for another few weeks after all!  Anyway … about Monday … it’s HERE … again!

I think you can all relate when I say it has been a rather distressing week in the news.  This election year is getting the best of us all, and some of the news both here in the U.S. and abroad has caused me to question whether the human race actually deserves to be called ‘human’ at all!  So, for today’s post I decided to go in search of people who have done, or are doing, good things for their fellow inhabitants of the planet.  Believe it or not, I did not have to look far!  So, sit back with your morning java and read a heart-warming story or two.  Then, I challenge us all, myself included, to find a way to ‘pay it forward’ and do something kind for somebody else this week.


Adam Smith wants to “feed the world” and he’s made a darn good start at it. Smith is the founder of the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP).  According to their website:

We are a global, organic network of pay as you feel cafes. We divert food destined for waste and use it to create delicious and healthy meals.

Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.

Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth

We believe that this has to stop, and it needs to happen in our lifetime, to ensure the next generation do not suffer from our ignorance.

rjfp-2.jpgRJFP recently opened a supermarket called simply The Warehouse in the town of Pudsey, and they operate 125 cafes, primarily in the UK, but also in Germany, France, Israel and Australia.  The project obtains perfectly edible food that would otherwise be thrown out from a variety of sources, including supermarkets, food banks and restaurants.  All the food in the cafes and the supermarket are sold on the “pay as you feel” principle, the goal being not only to prevent edible food from being wasted, but also to help provide families in need with more affordable food.  If they have no money, they can volunteer labour and skills instead.

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I strongly urge you to read this story of how Mr. Smith came to found RJFP in The Guardian, as there is so much more to his story than I am able to put into this post.  It is an amazing story of a man who is doing good things for the earth we live on and for humanity as well … every single day!  Hats off to Mr. Adam Smith!


The Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA of Pasadena, California, takes care of about 12,000 animals each year, and relies heavily on donations.  To this end, they have a donation box in their lobby where visitors can drop a few dollars to help with the care and feeding of the animals.

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One day two weeks ago, staff noticed the donation box seemed fuller than usual … quite a bit fuller, actually.  Imagine the surprise when they started counting … and found that there was $8,000 in crisp new $20 bills!  An anonymous donor had given a gift to many, many animals!

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“We are overjoyed by the generosity of this anonymous donation. We are incredibly grateful and extend a huge thank you to the mystery donor. Whoever you are, thank you so much for your generosity. Your donation will go towards all the animals in our care.”


These days we hear so much about school bullying, it is refreshing to find somebody who is doing exactly the opposite.  Natalie Hampton, a 16-year-old from Sherman Oaks, California, is the designer of Sit With Us, an app which launched on September 9. She was inspired to create it after she ate alone her entire seventh grade year, she told LA Daily News. The situation left Hampton feeling vulnerable and made her a target for bullying. The app allows students to designate themselves as “ambassadors,” thereby inviting others to join them. Ambassadors can then post “open lunch” events, which signal to anyone seeking company that they’re invited to join the ambassadors’ table. “Sit With Us” helps students who have difficulty finding a place to sit locate a welcoming group in the lunchroom.  A small thing, perhaps, but a sign of a big heart in the right place.


When 19-year-old Hannah Spooner won a Little Caesar’s contest entitling her to $500 dollars’ worth of pizza for a year, she didn’t start gobbling like many of us would. Instead, the Detroit native toured local philanthropies, searching for the perfect place to donate her prize. She settled on Covenant House Michigan, a shelter for homeless youth ages 18-24. The organization was more than happy to accept. Once news of Hannah’s donation started making rounds, the Little Caesar’s Love Kitchen threw a free pizza party at Covenant House independent of Hannah’s winnings.  Yet another example of a young person who has already learned about caring, sharing … about humanity.  See, folks … there is hope for the future after all!


I am no Pollyana, but I want to believe that most people are basically good.  I guess that maybe we need to look harder for the good in people, but this year it has been hard.  If we want to find the good in others, maybe we need to work a little harder at showing others the good in ourselves, yes?

Okay, folks … time to get moving … you don’t want to be late for work!  I wish everyone who reads this column a happy and safe week.  I hope I’ve given you at least a small smile this fine morning!  Don’t forget to pass that smile on … smiles tend to be worth a lot more when they are shared with others!

The title language of the week, in honour of St. Patrick’s Day last March, is Irish!

In honour of Autumn, which started some 2 weeks ago ….

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