Let’s Do the One Thing Trump Is Incapable Of: FOCUS

We are bombarded with so much ‘news’ on a daily basis, much of it designed to raise our hackles, to speak to our worst nightmares, to instill either fear or a sense of hopelessness. Our friend TokyoSand reminds us that in order to win in November, in order to defeat the current regime and begin to restore some semblance of democratic principles, we must maintain our focus. She makes some excellent points that we all need to keep in mind. Thank you once again for your clear thinking and sound advice!

Political⚡Charge

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

How did you feel when you heard that Trump had suggested delaying the election last week?

Outraged? Scared? Angry?

I certainly saw all of these things in articles, opinion pieces, on social media, and in conversations. And people talked and talked and talked. I found it hard to be online, with so much fear and panic in the air.

It didn’t seem to matter when folks–including constitutional professors and scholars–pointed out that Trump can’t delay the election. That the only body that has that authority is Congress, and Pelosi and McConnell would have to agree to a new date. That just is never going to happen.

No, what I saw was people who WANTED to wallow in the fear and “what if” scenarios and dive deeper into the darkness.

Not to be mean, but I just don’t have time for that. I will respond…

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♫ You Needed Me ♫

Last night I played a song that was co-written by Randy Goodrum, and since the name didn’t ring any bells, I did a bit of research on Mr. Goodrum, which led me to this long-time favourite sung by Anne Murray.

This was the first hit written by Randy Goodrum, a Nashville songwriter and keyboard player.  In an interview, Goodrum explained …

“It was sort of an unconditional undeserved love. How could you love me as if I’m perfect, when I’m not? It was a disclaimer, sort of, for the other person. How could you need me? It’s not exactly the same premise as ‘I wouldn’t belong to a club who’d have me as a member,’ but it’s a small sliver of unconditional love, which to me is a broad piece of pizza that you can take a lot of minute slivers from along the way. I’ve always thought that songs, even positive songs, needed to have a certain amount of shadow in them for the light to be significant. And I think too many songwriters are afraid to offend the world, and they never write anything dramatic. They never put anything negative. But to me, you can have negative in a song, as long as there’s a ray of hope somewhere. Maybe a way out. Not a saccharine, syrupy way out. It’s like in a movie where you see somebody locked in a cave, and suddenly they see a rock fall away and they see a little piece of light come in, they say, ‘Ah, maybe if I work really hard I can get out that way.'”

Anne Murray was struggling with the pressures of juggling her career and her family life with her husband Bill Langstroth and her toddler son William. One day she was going through a box of tapes when she came across a song that expressed just how she was feeling. Unfortunately, only the writer’s name, Randy Goodrum, was on the cassette but her producer researched his name in the phone book and she recorded his song. It became her second U.S. #1 and to this day it remains the favorite of her own recordings.

The song hit #1 in Canada and the U.S., and #22 in the UK.

You Needed Me
Anne Murray

I cried a tear, you wiped it dry
I was confused, you cleared my mind
I sold my soul, you bought it back for me
And held me up and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

And I can’t believe it’s you
I can’t believe it’s true
I needed you and you were there
And I’ll never leave, why should I leave?
I’d be a fool ’cause I finally found someone who really cares

You held my hand when it was cold
When I was lost you took me home
You gave me hope when I was at the end
And turned my lies back into truth again
You even called me “friend”

You gave me strength to stand alone again
To face the world out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me, you needed me

You needed me, you needed me

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Randy Goodrum
You Needed Me lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Miranda Millsap D/B/A Ironside Music, Warner Chappell Music Inc

Jolly Monday … IT’S AUGUST ALREADY!!!

dino-3Good Monday morn, friends!  Yes, it’s Monday again already, but even worse … do you realize it’s already AUGUST???  The year is 58% over and Hallowe’en 🎃 is just around the corner!  Where … just where did the first seven months of this year go???  The only upside to this is that autumn and cooler temperatures will soon be here.  Normally, I’m sad to see summer go, but this one hasn’t been particularly pleasurable between the pandemic, the heat, and the political angst, so I’m happy enough to say ‘goodbye’ to it.  But enough of that … it’s Monday, the start of a new week, so let’s try to find some humour, something to put a smile on our faces as we brave the new week, shall we?  Grab a snack and a cuppa, and let’s see what awaits us …


Oopsie!

If you live in Rhode Island and were expecting a tax refund check, you might be in for a surprise.  Some of the refund checks, mailed last week, bore the signature of Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney, instead of the usual Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and State Controller Peter Keenan!  No, you cannot cash them if you receive one of these … I’d hang onto it, though … it might be worth something someday!

RI-tax-check

According to Jade Borgeson, chief of staff for the Rhode Island Department of Revenue …

“As a result of a technical error in the Division of Taxation’s automated refund check printing system, approximately 176 checks with invalid signature lines were printed and mailed to taxpayers on Monday. The invalid signature lines were incorrectly sourced from the Division’s test print files. Corrected checks will be reissued to impacted taxpayers within one week.”


Just bein’ helpful …

Brett Longo of Mary Esther, Florida, had taken his trash container to the curb for pickup a few days ago.  A bit later, he got an activity alert from his home security camera telling him the camera had picked up movement.  When he checked the camera, this is what he saw …

dino-1On first glance, it appears one of the two black bears was being nice, bringing his trash container back up to the top of the drive, but then the bear tipped it over and … turns out it hadn’t been emptied by the binmen yet, ‘cause the bear spilled the trash all over the drive!  Longo was forgiving, though …

“He was just bringing it up to the house. He was polite enough to move it out of the driveway.”


Barred from da bar …

A pair of emus were once a staple in the pub in the Yaraka Hotel in Yaraka, Queensland, Australia, but today they are no longer welcome.  Turns out the emus, named Kevin and Carol, have been a bit naughty within the confines of the pub, stealing food from patrons and leaving little ‘gifts’ behind on the floor!

Yaraka-hotelGerry Gimblett, who owns the Yaraka Hotel with her husband Chris, said they were left with no other option after the birds’ recent “bad behaviour”.

“They’ve been stealing things from the guests, especially their food. They’d stick their heads in and pinch toast out of the toaster. But the main reason we’ve banned them is their droppings.”

emudino-4The emus had become a tourist attraction after several eggs were hatched at the end of 2018, and while at one point there were nine emus in town, most had wandered away, leaving only Kevin & Carol.

“We love them as part of the Yaraka community, but they’re not welcome inside anymore.”

emus-banned

Now, I’m not sure how many customers the pub can have in a day, for the entire human population of Yaraka is only 18!


Okay, folks … it’s cartoon time!!!

toon-1toon-2toon-4toon-5dino-2toon-6toon-7toon-9toon-10toon-11toon-12

toon-8


And two cute critter videos, because the first one is super-short, but ohhhhh so cute!

 


jollyI see those gorgeous smiles on your faces … be sure to remember to share them today and throughout the week, for times are tough and we all need someone to just smile at us every now and then!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly (Joyful is taking an interior decorating class … she became inspired after re-decorating Roger’s dark tower!)

Oh, and just for you, Hugh …

The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/1

As usual these days, the cartoonists have been kept on their toes. Our friend TokyoSand has been busy scouting out the best of the bunch for us. Thank you, TS, for our weekly dose of humour!

Political⚡Charge

ByNick Anderson

Did this seem like a long week to you? It sure did to me. Looking at all of the many topics editorial cartoonists covered this week, I think I better understand why. As always, I hope you enjoy this collection of my favorite cartoons from the week. If you have a favorite, do let me know by commenting!

Election 2020

ByJack Ohman, The Sacramento Bee

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ByEd Hall

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByAnn Telnaes, Washington Post

BySteve Breen, San Diego Union Tribune

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Trump’s Goons

By Marian Kamensky

ByClay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press

By Mark Fiore, KQED News

ByGraeme MacKay, Hamilton Spectator

By Walt Handelsman,The Advocate

ByClay Jones

ByMike Luckovich

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♫ Foolish Heart ♫

These days it’s harder than usual to keep a song in my heart.  I think of one whilst in the shower or up to my elbows in sudsy dishwater, I think I’ll still remember it when I return to the computer, but … POOF … it vanishes into thin air.  Of late, I don’t sing, I whistle … if I even do that.  Usually, I don’t have to go in search of new music for these music posts … the music finds me.  But lately, I admit I’ve struggled to find a song anywhere in my head or heart.  So, tonight when I went in search of, determined to find one that made me want to sing along, this is what I stumbled across.  I’ve always loved this one, especially that one line, “You’ve been wrong before, don’t be wrong anymore”.

This song, written by Steve Perry, formerly of the band Journey, and Randy Goodrum, was performed by Perry from his first solo album, Street Talk. It was released as the fourth single from the album in November 1984 and peaked at #18 in the U.S.

Says Goodrum of the joint effort …

“It seemed like such an unlikely match, Steve and me. Shortly before I flew out, I thought, I’ve got to put together some song ideas or some starts or something. I had this little vamp idea which I said, Well, Steve is calling me probably because he wants a certain thing that I do, so I will give him a piece of what I do. So that little vamp at the very beginning in the general chord progression of the verse was something I brought. He had a little writing room set up and he had this Fender-Rhodes there, and a little Linn machine, and a little Teac 4-track cassette player.

I drove up to the house in this little mid-size rental, and I looked like some guy from Connecticut – I had an English riding cap, and corduroy pants – and he opens the door, and he’s got a fire-engine red jumpsuit, sweat shirt and pants like he’d been exercising at a fire station or something. And hair down to his feet. He was a great guy. Instantly we hit it off, and we were good friends. So we went into the room to kind of kick around, and I played him that little start, and he liked it right away, and he started jamming some melodies.

My style from starting out in Nashville was to write lyrics and music simultaneously. That’s really the style I prefer, because the music is sort of telling you what it’s about from the get-go, and I don’t think he was used to that style, because we started about 11 in the morning, and about 11 that night we had the song done and demoed. I think he was pretty exhausted from it, and I was pretty tired, too. We ended up writing four songs, I wrote four days with him, and each day we wrote a totally different kind of song. And all four of them ended up on the record.”

This was the last single from Perry’s debut solo album, Street Talk. His group Journey was still active at the time, but members had taken on solo projects: guitarist Neal Schon teamed up with Jan Hammer (as Schon & Hammer) for albums in 1981 and 1982, and drummer Steve Smith released a jazz album in 1983 with his group Vital Information. Perry had by far the most successful career outside of Journey.

Foolish Heart
Steve Perry

I need a love that grows
I don’t want it unless I know
With each passin’ hour
Someone, somehow
Will be there, ready to share

I need a love that’s strong
I’m so tired of being alone
But will my lonely heart
Play the part
Of the fool again, before I begin

Foolish heart, hear me calling
Stop before you start falling
Foolish heart, heed my warning
You’ve been wrong before
Don’t be wrong anymore

Feelin’ that feelin’ again
Playin’ a game I can’t win
Love’s knockin’ on the door
Of my heart once more
Think I’ll let her in
Before I begin

Foolish heart, hear me calling
Stop before, you start falling
Foolish heart, heed my warning
You’ve been wrong before
Don’t be wrong anymore
Foolish heart
Foolish, foolish heart
You’ve been wrong before

Foolish heart, hear me calling
Stop before you start falling
Foolish heart, heed my warning
You’ve been wrong before
Don’t be wrong anymore
Foolish heart

Oh foolish foolish heart
You’ve been wrong before

Foolish foolish heart
Foolish heart

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Stephen Perry / Randy Goodrum
Foolish Heart lyrics © Round Hill Music Big Loud Songs, Downtown Music Publishing

A View From The ‘Other Side’

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was planning to sneak into republican territory to try to gain a better understanding of their ideology … and why they still support Trump after all the death and destruction he has wrought.  So far, I’ve been a bit slow in doing that, for I find I have a low tolerance for much of what I find on the Republican’s turf.  Today, however, an opinion piece by conservative writer Hugh Hewitt, a Washington Post columnist, raised my hackles sufficiently that I had to address it.  I won’t replay the entire piece, but you can find it over at The Washington Post if you feel so inclined.  What I will do is address a few of his more ludicrous statements.

The title of Mr. Hewitt’s piece was telling in itself: The case for Trump will come down to his record. It’s a strong one.”

I knew right then it was likely to make me growl, and I wasn’t disappointed.  A few snippets from his column, with my responses in blue

“With huge help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Trump has put two justices on the Supreme Court, 53 judges on the federal courts of appeals, 144 and counting on the District courts, and more than 20 on the specialty courts. The Constitution has been buttressed.”  Change the word “buttressed” to “battered”.  I’m glad to see he assigns blame for this mess to McConnell, as well.  No wonder ol’ Mitchie has an ever-expanding ego!

“Trump’s tax cuts, along with the massive deregulation he orchestrated, led to 3.5 percent unemployment until the regime in Beijing acted with criminal recklessness toward a virus that has devastated the world.”  Trump’s tax cuts mostly went to the wealthy, and the unemployment was already low before Trump took office.  He does not get credit for that.  But more to the point … to blame China for “criminal recklessness” is the most ridiculous thing.  China did not, contrary to the conspiracy theorists, manufacture the virus intentionally in a lab!  The only ‘criminal recklessness’ that has led to more than 156,000 deaths in the U.S. was Trump’s horrific mishandling from day #1!  And that ‘massive deregulation’ has contributed to the further destruction of our air, water, and wildlife on planet Earth.

“Trump took a military operating in President Barack Obama’s last years at about $600 billion and moved that budget by his third year to $738 billion, with more in the budget coming soon. The Navy necessary to meet China on the high seas, all 355 ships of it, is being planned and built.”  Oh goodie … while people are homeless, going to bed hungry, and cannot afford health care, even more of our tax dollars are going to support an already over-bloated military so that we can start a war with China!  I sure feel better, don’t you?  The U.S. already has the largest military on the globe, and now we have a warmonger in the White House … what could possibly go wrong?

“Trump took the United States out of the unbalanced, absurd, doomed-to-fail Paris Climate Agreement and has instead focused on and delivered American energy independence. People have real job security in Pennsylvania as a result, if not in jetting off to Paris for follow-up seminars.”  One commenter to Hewitt’s piece said she’d like to have some of what he’s been smoking … I agree.  The environment is in real trouble and the Paris Accords were the last best hope for getting all nations to work together to try to preserve life on the planet, yet Mr. Hewitt is applauding Trump’s decisions that have made the extinction of most living species almost a certainty?  Are you growling yet?  And as for the coal industry in Pennsylvania … coal is on its way out, and nothing … nothing Trump can do is going to change that.  Retraining the miners in another industry, such as renewable energy, would have been much kinder.

“Trump’s border wall, proceeding apace, makes obvious sense. More than 200 miles completed, with Trump tweeting Thursday the length with [sic] be 300 miles by September.”  Of the 200 miles, only 3 miles is new, and the other 197 miles replaced existing border barriers.  The funds to build this ‘wall’ have been hijacked from budgets earmarked for other, more important things.  And the cost thus far has been over $15 billion.  Further … the experts have shown that such a structure will not stop illegal immigration.  More of our tax dollars wasted while children go to bed hungry at night!

“Trump has also stripped off the veneer of objectivity from the “fake news.” “Blue Bubble” journalists are the last to know the contempt in which they are held beyond the Acela corridor and outside Silicon Valley and Hollywood. They mistake their small audience share for success.”  Seriously?  ‘Small audience’???  The New York Times had, as of the 4th quarter last year, 3.43 million paid subscribers, and The Washington Post is estimated to have more than 2 million. 

I read around 30 comments responding to Mr. Hewitt, and of those, only one was favourable to Mr. Hewitt, the rest calling his words ‘a spoof’, ‘laughable’, and more.  The one positive comment simply said, “What a wonderful man.”  Not a single comment that I saw supported Hewitt’s premises, and several pointed out a few of Trump’s worst blunders, including his handling of the pandemic that has led to so much unnecessary loss of life.

I went into this in hopes of gaining understanding, but with such views as Mr. Hewitt’s, I am left to wonder how right and left can move closer to understanding each other and finding common ground.  How do we unite two sides that are so very far apart in their views and ideologies?  Is it a lost cause, and are we doomed to be a nation so divided forever?  If so, we will not remain a single nation for long, for the chasm in which we live today is untenable.  The United States of America is not by any stretch of the imagination ‘united’ today.

An Honourable Man: Alexander Vindman

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman served this nation with honour and integrity for 21 years.  A career U.S. Army officer, he served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  He received a Purple Heart medal for wounds he received from an IED attack in the Iraq War in 2004.  In October 2019 he testified before the United States Congress regarding the Trump–Ukraine scandal.  On February 7th, two days after the U.S. Senate let the nation down, failing to uphold their oaths and failing to convict Trump on well-proven impeachment charges, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was fired, or rather “reassigned within the army” and in a tacky gesture, escorted off the White House grounds.  Last month, he resigned, citing untenable circumstances of bullying and harassment by Trump and his sycophants.  What follows is an OpEd he wrote that was published this morning in The Washington Post.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is a man of honour and integrity who served this nation well.


Alexander Vindman: Coming forward ended my career.

I still believe doing what’s right matters.

VindmanOpinion by Alexander S. Vindman

August 1, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. EDT

After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel. A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.

Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents. Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

There is another way.

During my testimony in the House impeachment inquiry, I reassured my father, who experienced Soviet authoritarianism firsthand, saying, “Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.” Despite Trump’s retaliation, I stand by that conviction. Even as I experience the low of ending my military career, I have also experienced the loving support of tens of thousands of Americans. Theirs is a chorus of hope that drowns out the spurious attacks of a disreputable man and his sycophants.

Since the struggle for our nation’s independence, America has been a union of purpose: a union born from the belief that although each individual is the pilot of their own destiny, when we come together, we change the world. We are stronger as a woven rope than as unbound threads.

America has thrived because citizens have been willing to contribute their voices and shed their blood to challenge injustice and protect the nation. It is in keeping with that history of service that, at this moment, I feel the burden to advocate for my values and an enormous urgency to act.

Despite some personal turmoil, I remain hopeful for the future for both my family and for our nation. Impeachment exposed Trump’s corruption, but the confluence of a pandemic, a financial crisis and the stoking of societal divisions has roused the soul of the American people. A groundswell is building that will issue a mandate to reject hate and bigotry and a return to the ideals that set the United States apart from the rest of the world. I look forward to contributing to that effort.

In retirement from the Army, I will continue to defend my nation. I will demand accountability of our leadership and call for leaders of moral courage and public servants of integrity. I will speak about the attacks on our national security. I will advocate for policies and strategies that will keep our nation safe and strong against internal and external threats. I will promote public service and exalt the contribution that service brings to all areas of society.

The 23-year-old me who was commissioned in December 1998 could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have had. I joined the military to serve the country that sheltered my family’s escape from authoritarianism, and yet the privilege has been all mine.

When I was asked why I had the confidence to tell my father not to worry about my testimony, my response was, “Congressman, because this is America. This is the country I have served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right matters.”

To this day, despite everything that has happened, I continue to believe in the American Dream. I believe that in America, right matters. I want to help ensure that right matters for all Americans.

♫ Nikita ♫

This one was mentioned in a conversation a day or two ago, and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

Released in 1985, in this Cold War ballad, a Westerner falls in love with an East German citizen he cannot meet because he is not allowed to cross the Berlin Wall. This was a very revolutionary song during the Cold War; Eastern Europeans who lived in the communist block would listen to Western radio stations like Free Europe and pick up on the sentiments.

What I did not know is that George Michael sang backing vocals on this track, as well as several other Elton songs including one of my very favourites, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.

Elton John, Bernie Taupin and Big Pig Music were accused of plagiarism by South African photographer and songwriter Guy Hobbs. Hobbs wrote a song in 1982 entitled Natasha, about a Russian waitress on a cruise ship, who was never allowed to leave it. The song was copyrighted in 1983, and sent to Big Pig Music (John’s publisher) for a possible publishing deal, but Hobbs never heard back from the publisher. In 2001, Hobbs came across the lyric book to “Nikita” and noticed similarities with his song. Despite repeated attempts by Hobbs to contact John over the issue, he never heard from him and so commenced legal action in 2012.  On 31 October 2012, a US federal judge granted John and Taupin’s motion to dismiss, finding that the song did not infringe Hobbs’ copyright because the only similar elements were generic images and themes that are not protected under copyright law.

Nikita
Elton John

Hey Nikita is it cold
In your little corner of the world
You could roll around the globe
And never find a warmer soul to know

Oh I saw you by the wall
Ten of your tin soldiers in a row
With eyes that looked like ice on fire
The human heart a captive in the snow

Oh Nikita you will never know, anything about my home
I’ll never know how good it feels to hold you
Nikita I need you so
Oh Nikita is the other side of any given line in time
Counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Oh no, Nikita you’ll never know

Do you ever dream of me
Do you ever see the letters that I write
When you look up through the wire
Nikita do you count the stars at night

And if there comes a time
Guns and gates no longer hold you in
And if you’re free to make a choice
Just look towards the west and find a friend

Oh Nikita you will never know, anything about my home
I’ll never know how good it feels to hold you
Nikita I need you so
Oh Nikita is the other side of any given line in time
Counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Oh no, Nikita you’ll never know

Oh Nikita you will never know, anything about my home
I’ll never know how good it feels to hold you
Nikita I need you so
Oh Nikita is the other side of any given line in time
Counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Oh no, Nikita you’ll never know

Nikita counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Nikita counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Nikita counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Nikita

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bernard J.P. Taupin / Bernie Taupin / Elton John
Nikita lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Saturday Surprise — Strange Architecture

Good Saturday morning and welcome to the weekend!  I’m so excited about my Saturday plans I can barely contain myself!  After my shower and morning routine, I’m gonna throw a load of laundry in the washer, then spend the next 15 hours in front of my computer!  Whoo Hoo!!!  {Sarcasm very much intended}  I hope you have fun plans, as well!

I was at a loss for a topic for Saturday Surprise … I trolled my usual sources, but nothing jumped out at me, and I was ready to give up, but I also didn’t feel like writing yet another political post just at the moment.  And so, I let my mind meander for a while and came up with something …

While I’ve never had any desire to become an architect, I’ve always been fascinated by different {read weird} buildings, so I went in search of, and found, some weird buildings I thought might make for a fun way to kick off the weekend.

bldg-1This is a residential complex located in Darmstadt, German, called the Waldspirale, which translates to “forest spiral” in English.  On the outside, some of its most notable features are the tower that resembles Russian onion domes, an absence of straight lines and sharp colors, and the multicolored painting of the building.  I was more intrigued by the appearance of uneven layers, as if someone had tried to squish it like a sandwich!


bldg-2This is the Krzywy Domek (Crooked House) in Sopot, Poland.  It is actually part of the Rezydent shopping center. It was designed by Szotynscy and Zaleski, who were inspired by fairy tale drawings.  It reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of some buildings in San Francisco after the earthquake of 1906 … or it makes me think of a huge giant coming along and just squeezing the building from the sides.


bldg-3Here we have the Casa do Penedo, located in the Fafe Mountains of Portugal.  This is a private home built between 4 large boulders. The property includes many amenities, including a fireplace and swimming pool.


bldg-4

I think this one, the Lotus Temple in Delhi, India, isn’t weird so much as beautiful … it somehow reminds me of the Sydney Opera House.   Its renowned flower-like shape has won it numerous architectural rewards.


bldg-5

Needless to say, this one captured my attention.  It is the Kansas City Library in Kansas City, Missouri.  The “community bookshelf” runs along the south wall of the parking garage. The book spines measure 25′ by 9′ and reflect a variety of reading interests, all suggested by Kansas City readers.  Several of my readers are huge “Lord of the Rings” fans, so you’ll be pleased to note that is one of the books featured on the wall!


bldg-6

What you see here is a Low-Impact Woodland House located in Cynghordy, Wales, in the United Kingdom.  Using only £3000, a chisel, a chainsaw and a hammer, Simon Dale and his father-in-law raised this cozy, woodland home up from the ground in just four months.  Built in 2005, the house is set into the earth, giving it the appearance of a hobbit home.  The design allows for increased energy-efficiency, keeping the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer.


bldg-7

This is the one building in today’s collection that is not yet built, but is still in the planning stages.  Still, I thought it interesting enough to include.  It is a Rotating Tower that is to be built in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and once completed, all 80 floors will rotate independently, spanning 360 degrees every 90 minutes.  While that may not be a dizzying speed … you might never know which direction to walk when you exited the building at the end of the day!


bldg-8

The Nautilus House in Naucalpan, Mexico, is shaped like a sea shell (on first glance I thought it was a snail shell).  Built by architect Javier Senosiain, it was constructed to be a livable home and features smooth surfaces, spiral stair cases, and natural paintings.  According to Senosiain it is both earthquake-proof and maintenance-free.


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The Museum Moderner Kunst in Vienna, Austria, appears to have had a house dropped on it!  Somehow this reminds me of “The Wizard of Oz”!  Artist Erwin Wurm is known for his unusual, sometimes humorous, and occasionally puzzling work. While his “House Attack” piece could fall into any or all of those categories, it’s at the very least intriguing. It was completed in 2006, but I read that the house atop the museum has since been removed.  Still, I thought it deserved inclusion here.


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This is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandrina, Egypt.  It is a major library and cultural center located on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It resembles an angled discus or giant sundial. It was created to reincarnate the famous ancient library of Alexandrina, which held the largest collection of manuscripts in the world but burned down in the 3rd century.


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bldg-11-bKubus Woningen, or Cubic Houses, are located in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  They were constructed by architect Piet Blom in the 1970s after he was asked to solve the dilemma of building houses on top of a busy road.  With 38 regular units and two “super-cubes”, each slanted cubic residence is held up by a hexagonal pillar, some of which are located atop a pedestrian bridge spanning the four-lane Blaak Street. While it solved the urban planning problem, it created some highly odd residences in the process.  Although each cube house contains about 1,080 square feet of floor space, only a quarter of this, approximately 270 square feet, is usable due to the sharp angles of the architecture. Even worse, this 270-square-foot area is spread out across four floors. After entering on the ground level, residents must take a narrow staircase to reach the first floor, a tiny, triangle-shaped room which features a living room and kitchen. A flight of stairs up are two bedrooms and a bathroom, and the top floor is a small free space, typically used as a garden.


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Wonderworks is a local attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in the Smoky Mountains. It’s primarily an entertainment center focused on science exhibits. It was designed to look as if the building was picked up by severe weather and dropped upside down on an existing building.  And once again, I am reminded of the “Wizard of Oz”!


The header image is Casa Terracota, or Ceramic House, located in a mountain village of Colombia.  It is known by locals as the Flintstone House.  The house is is entirely built by hand with clay and parched in the sun, freely shaped to look like a cottage.


I hope you enjoyed this brief tour of a few of the worlds oddest buildings.  Now, have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

The Voice Of Reason — From A Republican

Of late, I’ve taken to doing something I had not done, but should have, before – reading opinion pieces by conservative writers.  Not all of them, of course, for some I find to be simply too odious to read more than a paragraph, but those conservative writers who take a more moderate stance, who aren’t so far to the right as to be moronic, have something to say and I want to listen.  I want to understand what makes them tick, why they think as they do.  Yesterday, I came across an opinion essay in the New York Times by Stuart Stevens, a long-time Republican political consultant.  Mr. Stevens joined the Lincoln Project earlier this year. This essay resonates, it helps explain some things, maybe answer some questions we’ve been asking, and I think it is worth sharing here.  I hope you’ll take a minute to read Mr. Stevens’ words.


I Hope This Is Not Another Lie About the Republican Party

But it might be lost forever.

stuart-stevensBy Stuart Stevens

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, commissioned an internal party study to examine why the party had won the popular vote only once since 1988.

The results of that so-called autopsy were fairly obvious: The party needed to appeal to more people of color, reach out to younger voters, become more welcoming to women. Those conclusions were presented as not only a political necessity but also a moral mandate if the Republican Party were to be a governing party in a rapidly changing America.

Then Donald Trump emerged and the party threw all those conclusions out the window with an almost audible sigh of relief: Thank God we can win without pretending we really care about this stuff. That reaction was sadly predictable.

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

I saw the warning signs but ignored them and chose to believe what I wanted to believe: The party wasn’t just a white grievance party; there was still a big tent; the others guys were worse. Many of us in the party saw this dark side and told ourselves it was a recessive gene. We were wrong. It turned out to be the dominant gene.

What is most telling is that the Republican Party actively embraced, supported, defended and now enthusiastically identifies with a man who eagerly exploits the nation’s racial tensions. In our system, political parties should serve a circuit breaker function. The Republican Party never pulled the switch.

Racism is the original sin of the modern Republican Party. While many Republicans today like to mourn the absence of an intellectual voice like William Buckley, it is often overlooked that Mr. Buckley began his career as a racist defending segregation.

In the Richard Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips wrote a re-election campaign memo headed “Dividing the Democrats” in which they outlined what would come to be known as the Southern Strategy. It assumes there is little Republicans can do to attract Black Americans and details a two-pronged strategy: Utilize Black support of Democrats to alienate white voters while trying to decrease that support by sowing dissension within the Democratic Party.

That strategy has worked so well that it was copied by the Russians in their 2016 efforts to help elect Mr. Trump.

In the 2000 George W. Bush campaign, on which I worked, we acknowledged the failures of Republicans to attract significant nonwhite support. When Mr. Bush called himself a “compassionate conservative,” some on the right attacked him, calling it an admission that conservatism had not been compassionate. That was true; it had not been. Many of us believed we could steer the party to that “kinder, gentler” place his father described. We were wrong.

Reading Mr. Bush’s 2000 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention now is like stumbling across a document from a lost civilization, with its calls for humility, service and compassion. That message couldn’t attract 20 percent in a Republican presidential primary today. If there really was a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, we lost.

There is a collective blame to be shared by those of us who have created the modern Republican Party that has so egregiously betrayed the principles it claimed to represent. My j’accuse is against us all, not a few individuals who were the most egregious.

How did this happen? How do you abandon deeply held beliefs about character, personal responsibility, foreign policy and the national debt in a matter of months? You don’t. The obvious answer is those beliefs weren’t deeply held. What others and I thought were bedrock values turned out to be mere marketing slogans easily replaced. I feel like the guy working for Bernie Madoff who thought they were actually beating the market.

Mr. Trump has served a useful purpose by exposing the deep flaws of a major American political party. Like a heavy truck driven over a bridge on the edge of failure, he has made it impossible to ignore the long-developing fault lines of the Republican Party. A party rooted in decency and values does not embrace the anger that Mr. Trump peddles as patriotism.

This collapse of a major political party as a moral governing force is unlike anything we have seen in modern American politics. The closest parallel is the demise of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, when the dissonance between what the party said it stood for and what citizens actually experienced was so great that it was unsustainable.

This election should signal a day of reckoning for the party and all who claim it as a political identity. Will it? I’ve given up hope that there are any lines of decency or normalcy that once crossed would move Republican leaders to act as if they took their oath of office more seriously than their allegiance to party. Only fear will motivate the party to change — the cold fear only defeat can bring.

That defeat is looming. Will it bring desperately needed change to the Republican Party? I’d like to say I’m hopeful. But that would be a lie and there have been too many lies for too long.