The Ugly Face Of ‘Nationalism’

I could have been quite content to never hear the name “Marjorie Taylor Greene” again for as long as I live.  However, yesterday she flew face-first onto my radar and aroused such disgust that I truly wished for the opportunity for my fist to meet her face.  She and two others, Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona and Louie Gohmert of Texas (both of whom have crossed my radar before) have started a new House caucus that they are calling the “America First Caucus”.  Just the name itself raised my hackles … you’ll remember the former guy using that terminology many times, and I find it to be an arrogant, bigoted term.

So, to start with, just what is a ‘caucus’?  Congressional caucuses are voluntary groups made up of lawmakers seeking to advance certain policy agendas. While the groups operate outside of the formal congressional legislative structure, many, such as the ignoble House Freedom Caucus, have found success influencing debate and amplifying their voices.  There are at least a hundred caucuses in the House, most consisting of only 2-3 members, some only having a single member, and typically promoting a single idea, such as the “Arts Caucus” or the “House Specialty Crops Caucus” … yes, I’m serious!  But some, like the aforementioned House Freedom Caucus, have a hundred or more members and a broad agenda.

The 7-page document outlining the “America First Caucus” policy agenda begins …

“The America First Caucus (AFC) exists to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation. The North Star of any policy proposal will be that which serves the American people, and any consequential analysis of policy platforms must be based on this first principle.

As this implies a degree of ideological flexibility, a certain intellectual boldness is needed amongst members of the AFC to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

There is racist, bigoted language throughout the document.  In a section on immigration, the document describes the United States as a place with “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and argues that “societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country, particularly without institutional support for assimilation and an expansive welfare state to bail them out should they fail to contribute positively to the country.”

The document calls to suspend all immigration, saying such pauses are “absolutely essential in assimilating the new arrivals and weeding out those who could not or refused to abandon their old loyalties and plunge head-first into mainstream American society.”

On infrastructure, the caucus calls for the construction of roads, bridges and buildings that reflect “the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture, whereby public infrastructure must be utilitarian as well as stunningly, classically beautiful, befitting a world power and source of freedom.” 

I strongly urge you to read the document, for it is filled with racist, bigoted rhetoric.  Interestingly, a few other congressional Republicans weren’t too happy with it, either.  Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, whose ideology is typically far to the right of center, said …

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion. The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln & the party of more opportunity for all Americans — not nativist dog whistles.”

GOP conference chairperson Liz Cheney, the third highest ranking House Republican, responded with …

“Republicans believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all. We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront & reject such malicious hate.”

Democratic Representative Ted Lieu’s response was spot on …

“As an immigrant, I served on active duty in the US military to defend your right to say stupid stuff. What makes America great is that we don’t judge you based on bloodline, we look at your character.”

Last February, the House voted to remove Ms. Greene from her committee assignments based on her promotion of QAnon conspiracy theories, so she has had virtually nothing to do (yet We the People pay her $174,000 per year), and this caucus is presumably the result.  Trouble is that what Ms. Greene fails to understand is first that this is a nation of immigrants … immigrants from all over the world, not just “Anglo-Saxon” countries.  Second, she needs to understand that this is the 21st century, not the 18th.  We are all in this world together … air travel, the Internet, and other technologies have shrunken the globe and what one nation does can easily affect every other nation on the planet.  In the sections on the environment and energy, the document reads …

“The America First Caucus supports conservation of the environment and our national lands for the benefit of our nation. Having said that, we should not cripple our country’s manufacturing sector through agreements such as the Paris Climate Accords. We oppose the globalist, vague, and irrelevant policies being pushed under the guise of combating climate change.

While it is vital to preserve our environment, we should not use it as an impetus to destroy the energy industry that hires millions of hard-working Americans. Our elected officials should stand proudly with America’s struggling coal country against job-killing regulations, and welcome the ongoing shift towards clean coal. In addition, the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines will promote North American energy independence …”

Ms. Greene literally has zero qualifications to be in Congress, and even fewer qualifications to opine on things of which she has no knowledge.  Her ‘caucus’ is based solely on emotions, personal opinions, and uneducated views.  I had hoped that the people of her district in Georgia would vote her out next year and rid us of this terrible disease, but reportedly, she is raking in the campaign donations, so perhaps that dream is dead.

Ms. Greene’s ideology, such as it is, would close us off from the rest of the world, make this nation isolated and shielded from new ideas, cultural sharing, and protection of neighbors and allies.  And it would disenfranchise nearly half of the people in this nation.  There is no place in this country for the type of hateful ‘nationalism’ (another word I deplore) that Ms. Greene and her cohorts are proposing.  NONE!

♫ Bad Moon Rising ♫ (Redux)

Okay, okay … yes, I know I just played this one last November, a few short months ago.  But see, here’s the thing … when I played CCR’s “Proud Mary” two days ago, our friend Clive commented that his favourite CCR song was “Bad Moon Rising”, and suddenly the song was being played in stereo in my head.  I didn’t recall that I had only played it a few months ago, and I made a plan to play it … and … well, you know how it is when a song is stuck in your head … and you had a plan … and Clive said, “Go on, you know you want to.”  So … without apology, here it is again!


John Fogerty explained that the lyrics were inspired by a movie called The Devil And Daniel Webster, in which a hurricane wipes out most of a town. This is where he got the idea for the words “I feel the hurricane blowin’, I hope you’re quite prepared to die.” Overall, he said the song is about the “apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us.”  That is a theme that, I think, is just about as relevant today as it was in 1969 when this song was released by Creedence Clearwater Revival, aka CCR.

The song reached its US chart peak of #2 (one of five CCR songs to place that this position – they never got to #1) on July 28, 1969, eight days after the Apollo 11 moon landing. The song has nothing to do with space travel, but the title was somewhat apropos, especially after the mission succeeded.

Now, you all know that I am the world’s worst at getting song lyrics all wrong, so I took some pleasure in reading that the line, “There’s a bad moon on the rise” has often been mistaken for “There’s a bathroom on the right”!

And now, I give you Creedence Clearwater Revival …

Bad Moon Rising
Creedence Clearwater Revival

I see a bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today

Don’t go ’round tonight
It’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hear hurricanes a-blowing
I know the end is coming soon
I fear rivers over flowing
I hear the voice of rage and ruin

Don’t go ’round tonight
It’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise

I hope you got your things together
I hope you are quit prepared to die
Look’s like we’re in for nasty weather
One eye is taken for an eye

Oh don’t go ’round tonight
It’s bound to take your life
There’s a bad moon on the rise
There’s a bad moon on the rise

Songwriters: John C. Fogerty
Bad Moon Rising lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

Did The Press Let Us Down? Yes.

I am a staunch supporter of the rights of the free press, for without a free press, we are subject to being held hostage by the lies and cruelty of a dictatorship.  However, in exchange for We the People supporting the free press, we have a right to expect them to give us facts, not fiction.  We have a right to expect that they will provide us with all the facts, not just the ones that sensationalize a story and bring them readers, aka profit.  Sure, there are the likes of Fox ‘News’ and Newsmax that exist for the sole purpose of providing right-wing conspiracy theories, but I’m talking about the legitimate press, what some refer to as the mainstream media.  Over the past decade, the press has let us down numerous times in a number of ways, but today’s example is one that could cost lives, as Eric Boehlert of Press Run tells us …


How the media botched the J&J vaccine “pause” story

Headlines matter

Eric Boehlert

Concerned about six rare and severe blood clot reactions out of nearly seven million Americans who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC and the FDA on Tuesday announced a sweeping pause of the immunization in order to investigate the handful of cases.

The J&J vaccine, with its single-dose regimen, currently represents less than five percent of the 100 million-plus vaccines that have been administered this year. The government has more than enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hit the goal of 200 million shots by the end of the month, according to the White House.

Unfortunately for Tuesday’s J&J breaking news, crucial context was missing from most of the headlines. Instead of stressing that less than one in a million J&J shots had produced the troubling blood clot reaction, the press focused on “concerns” surrounding the “halt,”  and how the move “threatens to slow U.S. pandemic progress”:

  • “Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Halt Across Country After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge” (New York Times)
  • “CDC and FDA Recommend US Pause Use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (CNN)
  • “US Recommends ‘Pause’ For J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports” (Associated Press)
  • “Pause of J&J Vaccine Threatens to Slow U.S. Pandemic Progress Amid Rising Caseload” (Washington Post)
  • “Stocks Wobble After J&J Vaccine Halted, Inflation Uptick” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “US Calls For Pause in Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Over Blood Clot Concerns” (ABC News)
  • “U.S. Recommends Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (NPR)

It would have been such a simple fix to include “six cases” in each of those headlines, or “extremely rare” in order to give the story crucial, factual context. It’s especially important to provide that full meaning during a public health crisis. Reading those headlines, people likely assumed there were hundreds if not thousands of cases that prompted the vaccine “pause.”

The key omission played into the hands of conservatives who work hard to raise doubts about the virus shots.

It’s true that news consumers who dug into the reports discovered how rare the vaccine-related blood clots were. But those consumers were likely in the minority. According to a  a 2016 study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, nearly 60 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. “People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper,” the chief researcher announced.

The J&J news also attracted lots of media attention speculating whether the halt would cause more people to not want to get vaccinated.

It was a bit ironic Tuesday to watch reporters repeatedly press White House officials at the daily media briefing about whether the J&J pause will increase vaccine hesitancy, while never addressing the role the press might play in that phenomenon. By repeatedly failing to put the J&J pause in proper context, specifically with headlines, news outlets bear some of the responsibility this week in pushing alarmist narratives that don’t match the facts.

The CDC and FDA move comes at a time when the conservative media have raised doubts about the vaccines and Republican voters, and white evangelicals in particular, have expressed disdain for getting vaccinated as the country tries to achieve herd immunity in order to return to normalcy. For that to happen, anywhere 75% to 85% of the total population — including children, who are not currently getting the shots — need to be vaccinated.

Nationally, a recent Marist poll in partnership with NPR and PBS found 49% of Republican men said they would not take the vaccine. In Texas, 61 % of white Republicans say they’ll decline. In one county in Alabama, just seven percent of the eligible population has opted to get vaccinated. (More than 90% of county voters backed Trump last year.) And in North Carolina, a coastal county will stop administering vaccines at the end of the month because so few residents are scheduling appointments for the shot.

On Tuesday, the J&J announcement was treated as the biggest Covid news in weeks. The halt came at a time when there had been endless encouraging news about the vaccine rollout during Joe Biden’s presidency.

Is it possible the bad-news angle appealed to the press? A recent study found that the U.S. press prefers to lean into bad Covid news:

The [pandemic] coverage by U.S. publications with a national audience has been much more negative than coverage by any other source that the researchers analyzed, including scientific journals, major international publications and regional U.S. media. “The most well-read U.S. media are outliers in terms of their negativity.”

The important J&J pause story was one that cried out for full context in all aspects of the coverage, including the all-important headlines. Instead, the press bungled the assignment.

PLEASE Just CARE!!!

Another day, another time, I would have been all over the story of what has been happening in Myanmar (aka Burma) over the past several months (decades).  It is important.  It is a matter of human lives.  Instead, I have focused on the political corruption, the racism, the horrific gun problem, and other issues that hit more closely to home.  I learned some time ago that many people in this country are not particularly interested in what happens in North Korea, Yemen, the Ukraine, or Myanmar, for we have our own burdens to bear, our own fights to fight.  But, what has happened in Myanmar, Yemen and other places over the past years is … must be … important to us all, for whether you like it or not, we all share the same planet and its limited resources, and we are all part of the same race — the human race.  What happens to one of us, happens also to the rest.

The story you are about to read is not pretty, it will not lift your spirits, but … you cannot read this and tell me, at the end, that you do not care.  Please, my friends, even if you are powerless to change it … care … at least, just CARE, I beg you … please care.  😭


This is Aye Myat Thu at age 10.

Aye Myat is dead now, killed by an assassin’s bullet …



She Just Fell Down. And She Died.

By Hannah Beech

April 4, 2021

ဤဆောင်းပါးကို မြန်မာဘာသာဖြင့် ဖတ်ပါ။

In the swelter of the hot season, U Soe Oo cracked open the coconut with practiced blows of his machete. Small hands reached out for the first slice, cool and slippery.

His daughter — 10 years old, with dreams of being a makeup artist or a nurse or maybe even a princess with long golden hair like the one in “Maleficent,” which she had watched a zillion times, no joke — ran down a path with her sweet prize.

Just as she reached the trees that marked the perimeter of their property, the girl seemed to stumble, landing flat on her stomach, her father recalled. The piece of coconut slipped from her grasp, falling onto the reddish earth of Mawlamyine, a port town perched on a slender archipelago in southeastern Myanmar.

Mr. Soe Oo put his machete down and ran to tell her it was OK, that she could have another chunk of coconut. He scooped her up, limp in his arms, but it still didn’t register where all the blood was coming from, why she wasn’t saying anything at all.

The bullet had hit the left temple of his daughter, Aye Myat Thu, at about 5:30 in the soft glow of the afternoon of March 27. By the time darkness fell less than an hour later, she was dead.

Since staging a Feb. 1 coup and jailing the nation’s civilian leaders, the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, has murdered, assaulted and arrested with impunity. More than 550 people have been killed on the streets and in their homes by soldiers or police officers, according to a monitoring group.

At least 40 of the dead were children under 18, according to a tally compiled by The New York Times that relies on medical testimony, funeral details and family accounts. A few of the minors were killed for participating in the protests. Many others were bystanders who were seemingly executed, with a single gunshot to the head.

Often the children were killed as they went about their lives, playing or huddling with their families, in cities and towns that have descended into terror. Some had done nothing more threatening in their final moments than seek the comfort of a father’s lap, serve tea, fetch water or run down a lane with a piece of coconut.

“I have no power of revenge against the soldiers who killed my daughter,” said Daw Toe Toe Lwin, Aye Myat Thu’s mother. “All I can do is hope their turn comes soon.”

The slaughter of children has eclipsed the violence of previous military crackdowns, horrifying a nation accustomed to the Tatmadaw’s impulse to use maximum force against peaceful civilians. And it has hardened the resolve of a mass protest and civil disobedience movement that shows little sign of folding in the face of army snipers and grenade launchers.

This past week, a United Nations special envoy for Myanmar warned the Security Council that “a blood bath is imminent” and that “the whole country is on the verge of spiraling into a failed state.”

In Mawlamyine — known for its Buddhist pagodas and fleeting mentions, by its old name of Moulmein, in a Rudyard Kipling poem and a George Orwell essay — the protests began a week after the coup. They have coalesced almost daily since, with protesters occasionally showing up on boats in the harbor or on fleets of motorcycles.

Members of Aye Myat Thu’s family had not been politically active. Four years ago, when others in Mawlamyine protested the naming of a bridge after a general from another state, they kept quiet. A decade before that, when monks led protests against the military junta, they also stayed home. The same was true in 1988, when Myanmar erupted in pro-democracy dissent, only for the military to gun down thousands of people nationwide.

This time was different. Mr. Soe Oo is a furniture polisher. His two oldest daughters — Aye Myat Thu was the fourth of five — are a teacher and a beauty salon owner. There was a sense of upward mobility in a country once trapped by an economically disastrous mix of socialism and numerology, which gave preferential treatment to a former junta chief’s favorite digit. (At one point, when currency notes in multiples of nine replaced conventional ones, some of Myanmar’s savings evaporated.)

Today, the family is neither rich nor poor. But they are clear beneficiaries of the political and economic reforms that began a decade ago, which allowed ordinary citizens to buy cellphones, join Facebook and set up private savings accounts safe from government hands.

The family acquired some of the trappings of middle-class success, including a sound system and a television. Aye Myat Thu used her allowance to buy a bicycle with a blue basket. She discovered TikTok, along with the pleasures of a princess filter with tiaras and pink hearts. She and her sisters would dance with a frenetic jumble of limbs, before erupting in laughs so consuming that they had to stop the video.

For the first time, perhaps, the family had something to lose. Aye Myat Thu’s aunt marched in the anti-coup protests for “the revolution.”

Her niece was full of questions.

“She asked me once what people are doing out on the street, because she saw on Facebook that people are protesting and dying,” said her aunt, Daw Kyu Kyu Lwin. “I explained to her about the coup and why we were protesting. She said nothing but listened as I explained. She was thinking.”

On March 20, with the death toll mounting, some residents of Mawlamyine staged a set of creative rallies, meant to keep them safe. Instead of protesting in person, they lined up rows of stuffed animals, posting photos of them on social media. There were Winnie the Poohs and Piglets, the Japanese robot cat Doraemon and a tiny turtle holding a sign that read, “We want democracy.”

A week later, the mercury rose in Mawlamyine. Tarmac roads shimmered. A hot wind wafted from the Andaman Sea. It was Armed Forces Day in Myanmar, and Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the army chief and coup instigator, presided over a display of Tatmadaw weaponry in the capital, Naypyidaw.

Across the country that day, the security forces shot dead at least 114 people, among them seven children. In Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, a baby girl was half-blinded when a rubber bullet struck her eye.

In Mawlamyine this time, the protesters did not rely on stuffed toys as stand-ins. About 300 people gathered in the unrelenting sun, behind sandbag barricades. Some wore plastic helmets as they faced off with about 100 members of the security forces. The bullets started out as rubber and by afternoon had hardened to live fire. Protesters scattered, but two were killed.

No one quite knew why the soldiers wandered into Aye Myat Thu’s neighborhood of neat wooden houses, each painted a cheerful hue, sprays of bougainvillea adding more splashes of color.

Mr. Soe Oo took a coconut from the family palm tree and hacked at it carefully, lest the sweet water spill out. Sounds like the pop of firecrackers echoed in the hazy heat.

Aye Myat Thu grabbed her slice of coconut. The popping noises drew her down the path from her house. Past the trees, a camouflaged presence stalked, according to other neighborhood residents. No one in the family saw him.

The hole from the bullet was so small that Mr. Soe Oo said he couldn’t understand how it had extinguished the life of his daughter, another random victim of a trigger-happy military.

“She just fell down,” he said. “And she died.”

The funeral was the next day. Buddhist monks chanted, and mourners gathered around the coffin, raising their hands in the three-fingered salute from “The Hunger Games” that has become the protesters’ symbol of defiance. Garlands of jasmine framed the girl’s face, the bullet still lodged somewhere in her skull.

“I want to tear off the soldier’s skin as revenge,” said U Thein Nyunt, her uncle. “She was just an innocent child with a kind heart. She was our angel.”

Around her body, the family placed some of Aye Myat Thu’s favorite belongings: a set of crayons, a few dolls and a purple rabbit, some Fair and Lovely cream, a Monopoly board and a drawing of Hello Kitty she had sketched two days before she was killed. On the paper, next to the cartoon cat, Aye Myat Thu had written out her name in careful English letters.

“I feel empty,” said Ms. Toe Toe Lwin, her mother.

Right after the funeral, Aye Myat Thu was cremated, the flames burning her treasures with her. In other parts of the country, soldiers have stolen corpses of those they killed, perhaps to conceal the evidence of their brutality. In one case, they exhumed a child’s grave.

The family didn’t want the same for their little girl.

Two Worlds

Of late … well, for the past decade or so … I have wondered how the human species could possibly survive to the end of this century, for we are destroying our home, our world, and each other at an alarming rate. Professor Taboo, aka PT, has written a post that I think should be required reading for every human alive … thoughtful and though-provoking. Thank you, Prof, for your words of wisdom and the eye-opening photos.

The Professor's Convatorium


OF WONDER AND SPLENDOR

Just like as in a nest of boxes round,
Degrees of sizes in each box are found:
So, in this world, may many others be
Thinner and less, and less still by degree:
Although they are not subject to our sense,
A world may be no bigger than two-pence.
Nature is curious, and such works may shape,
Which our dull senses easily escape.Margaret CavendishOf Many Worlds in This World

There are a number of Earth’s animals, great and small, that care for each other. They seem to have feelings for the welfare of another. They demonstrate an innate behavior to protect their own as a whole rather than and possibly at the demise of themselves. In human terms this is called compassion, empathy, courage, altruism, love, and other inspiring virtues. In scientific terms it is known as eusociality and forms of superorganism behavior

View original post 458 more words

♫ For What It’s Worth ♫ (Redux)

A few days ago, someone mentioned this song and it has stuck in my head ever since.  I didn’t think I had already played it, but it turns out I did … just over a year ago in March 2020.  I think this is especially relevant and timely since there is currently a bill before Parliament in the United Kingdom that would, among other things, give police the right to bar unauthorized encampments and detain protesters if gatherings are deemed a “public nuisance.” The new legislation, pending in Parliament, could also impose noise limits and set start and finish times on demonstrations.  There have been numerous protests against this bill, and last weekend at least 26 protestors were detained by police.  Seems this song never loses its relevance, eh?


meme-1

Written by Buffalo Springfield guitarist Stephen Stills, later of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this song was not about anti-war gatherings, but rather youth gatherings protesting anti-loitering laws, and the closing of the West Hollywood nightclub Pandora’s Box. Stills was not there when they closed the club, but had heard about it from his bandmates.

In the book Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Stephen Stills tells the story of this song’s origin:

“I had had something kicking around in my head. I wanted to write something about the kids that were on the line over in Southeast Asia that didn’t have anything to do with the device of this mission, which was unraveling before our eyes. Then we came down to Sunset from my place on Topanga with a guy – I can’t remember his name – and there’s a funeral for a bar, one of the favorite spots for high school and UCLA kids to go and dance and listen to music.

[Officials] decided to call out the official riot police because there’s three thousand kids sort of standing out in the street; there’s no looting, there’s no nothing. It’s everybody having a hang to close this bar. A whole company of black and white LAPD in full Macedonian battle array in shields and helmets and all that, and they’re lined up across the street, and I just went ‘Whoa! Why are they doing this?’ There was no reason for it. I went back to Topanga, and that other song turned into ‘For What It’s Worth,’ and it took as long to write as it took me to settle on the changes and write the lyrics down. It all came as a piece, and it took about fifteen minutes.”

Buffalo Springfield was the band’s first album, and this song was not originally included on it. After For What It’s Worth became a hit single, it replaced Baby Don’t Scold Me on re-issues of the album.

For What It’s Worth
Buffalo Springfield

There’s something happening here
But what it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware

I think it’s time we stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking’ their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, “hooray for our side”

It’s time we stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Now, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

We better stop
Children, what’s that sound?
Everybody look – what’s going down?

Writer/s: Stephen Stills
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc.
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

Humanity is still a thing

Reading the news every day, it’s easy to believe that simple humanity has been lost in the great web greed, politics, corruption, bigotry and more. But, as blogging buddy Owen reminds us … Humanity Is Still A Thing. Thank you, Owen, for the timely reminder.

R2030 - In hope of a better decade

It is time to write something positive.

Today in Nantes, France, some young people rescued a family from a fire, showing great courage and putting their own lives at risk by scaling a building. The young peope who conducted the rescue were all migrants.

Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire. (Image from connexionfrance.com)
Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire.
(Image from connexionfrance.com)

The incident invokes memories of a news story from 2018, also in France, where a migrant in Paris scaled a building to rescue a small boy.

Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety.
Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety.
(Image from New York Times via You Tube)

These stuning moments of humanity tell us something profound; that we are human before we are a skin colour. We are human before we are a passport holder. We are human before we…

View original post 536 more words

April Fool’s!

I gave some thought to trying to pull an April Fool’s joke on you guys by telling you that this would be the last post ever on Filosofa’s Word, but … I figured some would see the title or read the first sentence and say, “Whew, it’s a good thing, for that old hag never had anything interesting to say anyway.”  And then my feelings would be hurt.  Not to mention that I’ve never been any good at pulling April Fool’s jokes.  The best one I tried was hiding my daughter’s car after she went to bed one March 31st night.  But, after an hour or two, I feared she might wake up, think it had been stolen, and call the cops (I only moved it one street over), so I moved it back before going to bed.  My girls … and anyone who knows me … can tell when I’m “up to something”, for my face gives me away every time.  So … instead of pulling a prank on you guys, I’m going to share some of the best April Fool’s pranks by others in years past.

Nearly every site I visited had this one …

On April 1, 1957, the BBC TV show “Panorama” ran a segment about the Swiss spaghetti harvest, enjoying a “bumper year” thanks to mild weather and the elimination of the spaghetti weevil. Many credulous Britons were taken in, and why not? The story was on television – then a relatively new invention – and Auntie Beeb would never lie, would it?

It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” Even the director-general of the BBC later admitted that after seeing the show he checked in an encyclopedia to find out if that was how spaghetti actually grew (but the encyclopedia had no information on the topic). The broadcast remains, by far, the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool’s Day hoax ever, making it an easy pick for the #1 April Fools’ hoax of all time on the Museum of Hoaxes website – a fine source for all things foolish.

More recently, in 2015, Cottonelle tweeted that it was introducing left-handed toilet paper for all those southpaws out there.

toilet-paper

Few people may have been taken in by Cottonelle, but that wasn’t the case in 1973, when Johnny Carson cracked a joke about a toilet paper shortage. Worried Americans immediately stocked up. Well, you can never be too sure.

In this now-classic 1996 prank, Taco Bell took out newspaper ads saying it had bought the Liberty Bell “in an effort to help the national debt.” Even some senators were taken in, and the National Park Service even held a press conference to deny the news. At noon, the fast-food chain admitted the joke, along with donating $50,000 for the bell’s care. The value of the joke, of course, was priceless.

In 1994, PC Magazine ran a column about a bill making its way through Congress that would prohibit the use of the Internet while intoxicated. Despite the name of the contact person, Lirpa Sloof (“her name spelled backward says it all,” the column concluded), many people took the story seriously.

In retrospect, however, perhaps the bill – fake or not – wasn’t such a bad idea.

Here are some of the best April Fool’s pranks from around the globe …

France: According to Le Parisien, in 1986, the Eiffel Tower was going to be dismantled and rebuilt inside the new Euro Disney park.

Denmark: In 1965, a Copenhagen newspaper reported that Parliament had passed a law that all dogs be painted white to improve road safety because they could then be seen clearly at night.

Norway: In 1987, after reading that the government was planning to distribute 10,000 litres of wine confiscated from smugglers, hundreds of citizens turned up carrying empty bottles and buckets.

China: Claiming that it would reduce the need for foreign experts, the China Youth Daily joked in 1993 that the government had decided to exempt PhDs from the nation’s one-child-per-family policy. After foreign press picked up the hoax, the government condemned April Fools’ Day as a Western tradition.

Great Britain: In 1980, those serial pranksters at the BBC announced that Big Ben, London’s historic clock tower, would undergo a face-lift and become digital to keep up with the times. This one didn’t go over so big, as enraged callers flooded the station with complaints.

Canada: In 2008, WestJet airlines advertised its overhead cabin bins as “among the most spacious of any airline” and said it would charge passengers an extra $12 to use these “sleeper cabins.”

Taiwan: In 2009, the Taipei Times claimed that “Taiwan-China relations were dealt a severe setback yesterday when it was found that the Taipei Zoo’s pandas are not what they seem.” The paper reported that the pandas, a gift from the Chinese government, were brown forest bears dyed to resemble pandas. Among the complaints sent to the paper was one from the zoo’s director.

Germany: In 2009, BMW ran an ad promoting its new “magnetic tow technology.” The invention enabled drivers to turn off their engine and get a “free ride” by locking onto the car ahead via a magnetic beam.

Perhaps the most fun part of April Fool’s pranks are that somebody, somewhere, will fall for almost anything!

And if you need some ideas for your own pranks, Bored Panda has a few

Insect Lamps

bp-1

Attach An Airhorn To Their Seat

bp-5

Delight Their Taste Buds With Caramel Onions

bp-7

Prank At Walmart

bp-12

Now, use your imagination and have a bit of fun with the day … just keep it fun, not mean.  Unless you’re pranking someone who deserves mean … then it’s okay to be mean.

toon-1toon-2toon-3

Trumpity Diggity

Yes, yes, I know I’ve committed to ignoring the former guy and that he must be allowed to fade into oblivion. But, when I saw this one by Claytoonz yesterday … it made me laugh … really laugh … and I simply couldn’t resist sharing the humour!  The cartoon is good, but his commentary beneath is truly priceless!

claytoonz

Cjones03312021

I have excellent timing. Minutes after finishing up this cartoon and while creating different file types of it for my clients, The New York Times sent me a notification that the ship blocking the Suez Canal for the past five days has finally been freed (I made that sound like I’m really important because the NYT sent me a notification, but it’s an app on my phone).

In case you’re a Republican, the Suez Canal is in Egypt. It’s a vital artery for the world’s shipping and economy. Think of it like a short cut between the Atlantic Ocean, after going through the Mediterranean Sea, to the Indian Ocean. It beats having to go around Africa. In case you’re a Republican, Africa is a continent, not a country.

While salvage crews were digging and tug boats were tugging, it was the moon that came through with the final push. The…

View original post 1,143 more words

What is your ‘ism’? Ask the dictionary

Owen is a blogging friend from the UK. His post yesterday focused on the political terms we use that so many people don’t even understand, but use them almost as if they were bad words. He gives concise definitions for everything from liberalism to fascism and adds his own views of each. Though his perspective is from Brexit and the UK, he also has a good understanding of U.S. politics and sees the parallels between his country and ours. Thank you, Owen, for this helpful post!

R2030 - In hope of a better decade

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
The dictionary can be a calm, quiet, simple source of truth

In times of turmoil, fear and uncertainty, words matter. As ever, the dictionary provides our clarity, our definition, our truth. It is held up as a source of truth to settle arguments, to provide resolve to confusions, to finish debates.

We should look to the dictionary for simplicity in chaos. One can gain more from a two-paragraph definition than a five hundred page book about politics.

A lot of words are banded about in online arguments: Fascism, Conservatism, Liberalism, Socialism. These words are weaponised, hurled as insults, but also worn as proud badges, waved as flags (don’t get me started). Sometimes though, one wonders if the users of such words actually know their meanings. I put myself in that same category, and it struck me that I should pause and recap, and refresh myself on the meanings of these…

View original post 1,412 more words