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.

weinstein-allen

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!!!

kathleen-white

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

Knock-Knock … It’s Jolly Monday!!!

Welcome Friends!!!  I feel like it’s been more than a week since we had our last Jolly Monday … I’ve missed you all!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend, that everybody is well and happy, and ready to face a new week! I would like to pull a Rip van Winkle and sleep until about January, for the expensive time of year is coming up.  Daughter Chris’ birthday is the 26th, Miss Goose’s birthday is November 28th, and then, of course, there is Christmas.  I tried to convince the girls to have birthdays one year, and Christmas the next … y’know, just alternate and save a bundle.  Do you think they bought into that?  Noooooo … sigh.  Anyway, in the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I won’t worry about that today, I’ll worry about it tomorrow.”  So for today, let us grab a cup of coffee, a bite of something, and have a few laughs together.


Leetspeak …

Yesterday I received one of those ‘milestone’ notifications from WordPress.  You know … the ones where they say “Congratulations, you now have 1,000 followers” or some such.  This one, however, confused the heck out of me:

“Congratulations on writing 1337 posts on Filosofa’s Word!”

I read it to Miss Goose, laughing as I jokingly said … “Is there some special significance to the number 1,337?”  Turns out there is, and Miss Goose knew exactly what it was.  “It’s leet,” she said.

“Leak?”

“No, leet.”

“Leap?”

“No … leetL-E-E-T! It’s an internet abbreviation, like ‘rofl’ or ‘omg’, only 1337 stands for leet.”

More confused than ever, not having a clue what she just said, I turned to Google.  Google directed me to Wikipedia who had this to say about 1337:

“Leet (or “1337”), also known as eleet or leetspeak, is an alternative alphabet for many languages that is used primarily on the Internet. It uses some characters to replace others in ways that play on the similarity of their glyphs via reflection or other resemblance. For example, leet spellings of the word leet include 1337 and l33t; eleet may be spelled 31337 or 3l33t. The term leet is derived from the word elite. The leet alphabet is a specialized form of symbolic writing.”

And I still have no clue what any of this means, so my final conclusion is that I do not care, I have more important things to think about, and that is that.  I just thought I would share this because perhaps some of you already received this message from WordPress and were confounded as I was.  Hopefully I helped clear it up for you.


A Rocking Chair or an Airplane?

Wagstaff-5Meet Trish Wagstaff.  Ms. Wagstaff is 85 years of age and a widow.  She has always been active, but after hip replacement surgery in 2002, friends thought she would slow down.  She was, after all, 70-years old!  But don’t expect to see Ms. Wagstaff in a rocking chair with knitting needles in her hand.  She will be … well here … they say a picture is worth a thousand words …

She has been on the longest zipwire in Europe and performed a catapulted paraglide, a 100m abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, swum with sharks, has wing-walked and paraglided.

Trish urged other pensioners to swap the sedentary lifestyle for a bit of action. She said: “An awful lot of people in their 70s have said to me, ‘I can’t do it, I’m far too old.’ I would encourage pensioners to stop saying ‘I’m old’ and get up and do something.”

Now, I greatly admire this woman, her fortitude, stamina and courage.  But dear friends, I am only 66 and I am telling you … do not even think you will talk me into any of this!  Adventure for me these days comes in different forms, from chopping onions and trying to keep all 10 fingers intact, trying to make the socks come out even and matched, and trying not to be eaten alive by a certain Tiger Lily.  Not to mention trying to maintain sanity in this crazy world. So no, I will not be standing atop an airplane while it is flying, nor jumping out of one.  But thumbs up to Trish Wagstaff!

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Strange Robbers …

Now, I know the rule for the Jolly Monday and Saturday Surprise posts is “no politics” and I adhere to that.  What follows is not a political statement, I promise … I just thought it was too funny to pass by …

In the northern Italy town of Turin, two brothers robbed dozens of bank cash machines while wearing masks (the robbers, not the machines).  And what kind of masks were they wearing?  Take a gander …

Trump masks‘Nuff said.


What A Mess …

It is autumn, and that means festivals.  We used to go to a small Applefest in the town next to ours, where they had homemade crafts, jams, jellies, and of course every homebaked apple treat imagineable.  It used to be a lot of fun, but in recent years it has grown so big, while the town has remained so small, that you take your life into your hands just finding a place to park.  And there are too many people … the whole atmosphere just isn’t the same, so we stopped going.

But in the Maine town of Damariscotta, there is an annual Pumpkinfest and Regatta that is quite different than your average fall festival.  There is a pumpkin derby, a pumpkin catapult, an official Giant Pumpkin Parade, and pumpkin art!  But one of the main events is the pumpkin drop, where giant pumpkins are lifted high by a crane, then released and dropped onto cars!  No, silly, not cars in the parking lot, but a couple of old junkers, as best I can tell.  Watch …

I’m not sure I would want to be part of the clean-up crew!  And here is a sample of some of the pumpkin art …


What Kind of Coffee???

I am a coffee-holic … I start with coffee when I first stumble downstairs in the morning, and drink it all the way up until I go to bed, usually somewhere between 3:00 – 5:00 a.m.  Though at home I usually stick to plain Caribou blend, I will try new things, and any time Starbucks comes out with a new flavour, I give it at least one shot.  My favourite thus far is Salted Caramel Mocha, which is only available during the fall months.  Canadian coffee house Tim Horton’s came out with a new flavour this month, and while I am not sure if I would like it, I would give it a try, and might, as there is a Tim Horton’s just north of where I live.  It is … wait for it … rein in those taste buds … Buffalo-Spice Latte.  Yep, you guessed it. It is fashioned after Buffalo Chicken Wings …

Tim Hortons

A pair of Tim Horton’s locations in Buffalo, New York, have introduced a new drink combining Buffalo-flavor seasoning and seasonal lattes.  According to Stephen Goldstein, regional president of Tim Hortons U.S., “We decided to surprise our loyal guests by pairing our new handcrafted Latte with the bold Buffalo flavor that’s so iconic to the region. The unlikely pairing comes together to create an unexpectedly delicious sweet and spicy treat.”

As I said, I would at least try it, but I am unclear as to whether it is only available in the Buffalo stores, or nationwide.  Might be a good time to go visit Uncle Leon!


Knock Knock …

I love knock-knock jokes, don’t you?  Short, sweet, to the point, and funny.  I do not tell jokes well.  In fact, I have been dubbed “the worst joke teller in the world”.  More than once.  By at least 4 different people.  My timing is poor, and my memory poorer.  But, since I am typing, not telling, and you are reading, not listening, this small assortment should work out fine.  I start with one of my old favourites …

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Dwayne

Dwayne who?

Dwayne the tub, I’m dwowning!

scroll swirl

Knock! Knock!

Who’s there?

Luke.

Luke who?

Luke through the keyhole to see!

scroll swirl

Knock! Knock!

Who’s there?

Isabelle.

Isabelle who?

Isabelle working, or should I keep knocking?

scroll swirl

Knock! Knock!

Who’s there?

Somebody who can’t reach the doorbell!

scroll swirl

Knock! Knock!

Who’s there?

Figs.

Figs who?

Figs your doorbell, it’s not working!

Okay, okay … I’m done with the knock-knock jokes now.  Take pity on my poor girls …. I made them listen to every one of them and if they didn’t laugh, I repeated them.

Well, my dear friends … and make no mistake … you are my dear friends and I cherish you all.  Alas, it is time for us all to get busy and make ourselves useful in one way or another.  You already know what I will be doing.  Sigh.  Have a wonderful week, a good day today, and please … share those smiles!  Other people may not have gotten their fill of knock-knock jokes this morning and might be in need of a friendly smile.  Keep safe and have a great week!  Love & hugs!!!

toon-1'Always plant trees so that the prevailing wind blows the autumn leaves next door'toon-3toon-4toon-Maxine

A Matter of Trust …

One of the political analysts I most respect for both his knowledge and unbiased viewpoints is Fareed Zakaria.  He hit the nail on the head this morning on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS (Global Public Square) when he said …

zakaria-2“The United States is now blasting an international agreement it is a sworn party to, without exiting the agreement. It is taking potshots at an international framework and yet staying within it — sort of. The result is a foreign policy that is not just unpredictable, but incoherent.

Trump has now signaled to countries like North Korea, never make a deal with America, because even if we sign, we might still upend the whole arrangement anyway. In his speech on Iran, Trump made the bizarre claim that other countries think in 100-year intervals. Even if this were true, which it isn’t, Trump’s actions suggest that his administration cannot even stay the course for a few years, let alone a hundred. Donald Trump’s national security team, the so-called grown-ups, have signed on to this contradictory policy toward Iran — which is a sad sign, perhaps, that they value their jobs more than their reputations.”

What he says is absolutely true.  Since taking office Trump has lied more often than not, and he has removed the U.S. from important agreements for no reason other than they were not his idea, but one of his predecessors. He has decided, even though the majority of the people he is supposed to represent disagree, that the U.S. no longer will participate in the Paris Accords to lower the impact of carbon emmissions on the environment.  He has made it clear that he will almost certainly pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) unless Canada and Mexiso agree to give the U.S. the most favourable terms, at the expense of their own nations.  He has pulled out of UNESCO, and threatened to abandon the U.S. commitment to the United Nations entirely.  And now he is playing games with the Iran nuclear agreement for no reason other than that President Obama was the U.S.’ representative at the time we entered into the agreement.

It is bad enough that we here in the states know him to be a liar and untrustworthy.  But now every nation with whom we have international relations are scratching their heads and saying, in the language of social media, WTF???

It is one thing when he promises “great health care” and then not only provides us with nothing, but robs tens of millions of people of having any heathcare.  It is one thing when he promises tax cuts to the working people, but in reality his tax cuts will help only the wealthy.  All that is bad enough, but …

When he promises aid to Puerto Rico after a devastating storm, then drops the ball and attempts to make it look like their own fault, that sends a message that Trump will not keep his promises.  When he randomly, for no reason at all pulls out of a commitment, an obligation on the part of the U.S., that sends a message that the United States does not uphold its commitments.  And when he threatens to pull out of a mutual commitment to go to the aid of our allies, as they would us, in the event of a foreign attack, then the message is loud and clear.  The United States can no longer be counted on, the United States is no longer reliable or trustworthy.

From there, it is a hop, skip and a jump to … “the United States is no longer our ally.” In turn, if we were to be attacked by Russia, North Korea, or any other nation, we would have no right to expect assistance from the EU or any other allies, not even Canada or Mexico.  If Trump truly wants to isolate this nation, he is off to a fine start, but let the buyer beware … it is about the second stupidest thing he could do at this point.

And all for what reason?  Because he is a megalomaniac and his name is not on any of these agreements.  He had no part in them, worse yet, his antagonism toward President Obama is palpable and he is determined to attempt to erase President Obama’s name from the history books.  The reality is that, while Obama was a good, though not perfect, president, Trump is actually making Obama look even better than he was!

I suspect that if the Iran nuclear agreement were to be re-named the Trump-Iran nuclear agreement, he would sit down and shut up. He sees himself as more than any president can be … he sees himself as an emperor rather than a president.  The global effect of his decisions and rhetoric is far-reaching.  The U.S. is no longer the leader of the western world … only because of Trump.  Our allies are making their own plans for future events that do not include the U.S. … only because of Trump.  Where is the line in the sand?  Where is the breaking point where this country, its people and its elected officials finally stand up and say, “ENOUGH!!!”?  It better be soon, folks … it better be real soon.

Any more questions?

Last week was a busy one for Donald Trump. It was as if he was on a mission to cause as much damage both domestically and to our reputation abroad as he possibly could in as short a time frame as possible. Friend and fellow-blogger Keith has written a nice summary of some of the areas in which Trump has focused his destructive talents, and since I could not have said it better, I am sharing his words with you. Please take a minute to read this excellent post … and be sure to check out the comments, for there are some good thoughts there as well. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

For over two years, I have been amazed at how a man, who is so consumed with himself and has given so little regard to the plight of others, can become the President of the United States. He convinced far too many people, whose voice has not been heard, that he was on their side. Unfortunately, they did not pay attention to his history which reveals he has only one cause – himself.

Yesterday, this man decided to kick poor people one more time, stripping subsidies under the ACA for deductibles, co-pays and coinsurance for those who qualify because of low wages. This man owns the imperfect, but working ACA. He has sabotaged it from the get go picking up the baton the GOP Congress gave him, so if the ACA fails as a result, it is on his and GOP leadership’s shoulders.

A few weeks ago, he rolled out…

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Nothing To See Here Folks … Nothing At All

His name is Michael Christopher Estes … a name few of us have ever heard, even though he planted a bomb in the Asheville, North Carolina airport just over a week ago, on October 6th.  Now why do you think you’ve never heard of Michael Christopher Estes and his attempted bombing?  Look at his picture and see if you can guess.

estesIf you guess that this event was under-reported because he is a white man, you would be right.  Had he been Muslim, of Middle-Eastern, Hispanic or African-American ethnicity, this news would have played 24/7 on all of the major media outlets.  Trump would have been screaming ‘terrorism’ at the top of his lungs, claiming it supports his call for a Muslim ban and a border wall, and the name Michael Christopher Estes would, by now, be a household word.

You can read the details of the story on NPR, for it is not my purpose to re-tell the story.

This is not the only one this year that we likely didn’t hear about:

  • In February, a Florida man named Mark Barnett allegedly created improvised explosives to plant in Target stores along the East Coast as part of a profit-driven bomb plot. Someone he allegedly attempted to recruit to his plot turned Barnett into authorities and he was charged in federal court; his federal case is ongoing.

barnett


  • In July, Luke Mullen was arrested after allegedly making bomb threats against the Colorado Springs Airport; police say he had four explosive devices and a machete inside his vehicle.

mullen


  • Also in July, a blast outside the Bixby Air Force Recruitment Office in Oklahoma caused property damage but no injuries. Benjamin Roden, a former airman, was arrested and is facing federal charges in connection with the incident.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos


  • In August, Elijah Blankenship in Ohio was arrested and charged with creating multiple homemade explosives. His arrest came shortly before an anti-racist vigil in honor of the victims of the Charlottesville, Va., attack, but court records don’t indicate whether there was a connection to the event.

blankenship


  • In September, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced that Douglas Kennedy of Tifton, Ga., was charged with manufacturing explosive devices after a bomb went off in the parking lot of the Tift Regional Medical Center; no one was injured. Kennedy had allegedly constructed and detonated at least three other bombs, none of which hurt anybody.

kennedy


For the most part, these stories were only reported locally, did not receive national attention in the media, and received no mention from anybody in the Trump administration.  Even the conspiracy theorists Jones, Hannity, Limbaugh and their ilk were silent on this one! The case of Estes would still lie buried in the archives of the Asheville Citizen Times newspaper if it were not for civil rights activist Shaun King, writing for The Intercept.  Since King’s article was published on October 11th, the story has been picked up by the mainstream media, including the New York Times, USA Today, Salon, NPR, Fox News, CBS News and others.  Nearly a week after the fact.  Would any of these outlets have published the story were it not for Shaun King’s article? I think we know the answer.

White males committing acts that might otherwise be labeled ‘terrorism’ do not elicit the attention of Donald Trump, and these days if Donald Trump does not have something to say about an event, then it is not newsworthy.  White males committing crimes is of no interest to Trump because it does not fit his agenda.  I get that, and I have low expectations of Trump anyway. But frankly I expect better out of our press.  I expect our press to push these stories, to inform the public so that Trump’s blind-faith followers can no longer deny that most acts of terrorism in this country are actually committed by white citizens, not Muslims, not Latinos, but white, male citizens.

I have come out in defense of our free press many times in recent months, and I will continue to do so as long as I have breath, for I firmly believe that the freedom of press to investigate and report, to keep us informed, is the very core of our democracy.  I believe that if we allow government to place constraints on the media, we will too soon become much like Turkey – a democracy in name only.  However, with that freedom comes a responsibility to act as a free press, to report all the news, not just the news that has Trump in the headlines, or about which Trump is tweeting. By ignoring these stories, the press is playing directly into Trump’s hand.

Fortunately, the bomb that Estes left in the Asheville airport was found and defused by police before it could do any harm, but that and the other cases I mentioned had the potential to cause serious harm, injuries and even death.  When he was arrested the following day, Estes told police that he was “preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil” and that this bomb was but one part of that war. That, folks, should frighten us a lot more than the refugee from Syria, the laborer from Mexico. How is that not newsworthy, yet every word that spews from the mouth of Donald Trump, is ‘breaking news’?

I understand that the mainstream media are for-profit organizations, that they are in business to make money, and that as such they must use their resources to report the stories they believe the people want to see.  But to ignore these stories, to give them less attention simply because it was a white male rather than a Syrian or a Mexican who committed the crime, is wrong.  We must hold the press accountable to report all the news, not to cherry pick and report only what Trump is doing.

Why The Fuss?

Much ado has been stirred by the silent protest movement that began with Colin Kaepernick and his decision to ‘take a knee’ rather than stand for the national anthem in a pre-season game last year. Since then, other players have followed suit in this non-violent, silent form of protest … protest against the systemic racism that has become a part of our society, a part of our very government. I have been trying to form the words to write more in depth about this, but our friend Hugh has done such an excellent job expressing the same thoughts I wanted to convey, that I am sharing his post, rather than re-invent the wheel. Please read this one … it is so important. Thank you, Hugh, for your excellent writing and permission to share.

hughcurtler

As pretty much everyone knows by now — even our good friend Lisa in far-off Ecuador — growing numbers of NFL players are refusing stand for the national anthem before football games and this has caused a great uproar. The roar was barely heard until the President stuck his oar into the mess and decided to stir it up. Most recently he has threatened to eliminate all tax breaks for the NFL to hurt the owners where they live and force them to insist that their players behave themselves. This has brought about a quantum leap in protest, much of it directed to the President’s insensitive manner of addressing the issue.

In all this confusion the central issue has somehow been lost. The President himself fails to make the distinction, as I mentioned in a previous post, between protesting the flag and protesting racial injustice. The latter is the real…

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Saturday Surprise — Friday The 13th!

friday-13th-maxine.jpgWelcome to another Saturday Surprise!  If today is Saturday, then yesterday must have been Friday, right?  And not just any ol’ Friday, but Friday the 13th!  Now, a lot of people think if the 13th of any month happens to be on a Friday, they will run into some bad luck.  I have never been victim to this phenomenon, knock on wood, and I am not what I would consider superstitious.  I’ve walked under ladders, shared a house with several black cats during my lifetime, and I don’t throw salt over my shoulder. In fact, I was brave enough to get married on a Friday the 13th!

Anyway, I thought it might be a bit of fun to take a look at some of the history and mythology surrounding Friday the 13th.

Paraskevidekatriaphobia: a fear of Friday the 13th.  Who knew there was a word for it?  Not that I can pronounce this word … I have been trying for 5 minutes now and I give up.

broken mirrorThe sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times. Their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to phobia specialist (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia) Dr. Donald Dossey, it’s the most widespread superstition in the United States today.

Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t dine in restaurants; many wouldn’t think of setting a wedding on that date (oops!).

 

black-cat-2One theory for why the number ‘13’ is considered unlucky dates back to primitive man.  Primitive man had only his 10 fingers and two feet to represent units, this explanation goes, so he could count no higher than 12. What lay beyond that — 13 — was an impenetrable mystery to our prehistoric forebears, hence an object of superstition. Which begs the question: did primitive man not have toes?

Ancient civilizations weren’t unanimous in their dread of 13. The Chinese regarded the number as lucky, as did the Egyptians in the time of the pharaohs.

One of the myths I found that I enjoyed was this …

“Twelve gods were invited to a banquet at Valhalla. Loki, the Evil One, the god of mischief, had been left off the guest list but crashed the party anyway, bringing the total number of attendees to 13. True to character, Loki incited Hod, the blind god of winter, to attack Balder the Good, who was a favorite of the gods.

Hod took a spear of mistletoe offered by Loki and obediently hurled it at Balder, killing him instantly. All Valhalla grieved. And although one might take the moral of this story to be “Beware of uninvited guests bearing mistletoe,” the Norse themselves apparently concluded that 13 people at a dinner party is just plain bad luck.”

I do know that thirteen people in my tiny house would definitely be bad luck, for they would be tripping over each other.  We have had as many as nine before, and that was definitely more than enough!

ladder.jpgIn pagan Rome, Friday was execution day (later Hangman’s Day in Britain).

The name “Friday” was derived from a Norse deity worshiped on the sixth day, known either as Frigg (goddess of marriage and fertility), or Freya (goddess of sex and fertility), or both, the two figures having become intertwined in the handing down of myths over time. Frigg/Freya corresponded to Venus, the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week in her honor “dies Veneris.”

Friday was actually considered quite lucky by pre-Christian Teutonic peoples— especially as a day to get married — because of its traditional association with love and fertility.

All that changed when Christianity came along. The goddess of the sixth day — most likely Freya in this context, given that the cat was her sacred animal — was recast in post-pagan folklore as a witch, and her day became associated with evil doings.

witches.jpgOne legend has it that the witches of the north used to observe their sabbath by gathering in a cemetery in the dark of the moon. On one such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group, who numbered only 12 at the time, and gave them one of her cats, after which the witches’ coven — and, by “tradition,” every properly-formed coven since — comprised exactly 13.

There are many interesting tales and myths surrounding Friday the 13th, some fun, others not so much.  But either way, as Terri Bonebright, assistant professor of psychology at DePauw University, says, “It all revolves around superstition.  In the case of Friday the 13th, people have been told it will be a bad day, so they selectively remember all the bad events that occur throughout the day.” Makes sense to me.

But then there is this …

In a provocatively study titled, “Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?” published in the 1993 British Medical Journal, researchers compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different dates, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years. Their goal was to map “the relation between health, behavior, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom.”

Interestingly, they found that while consistently fewer people in the region sampled chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on Friday the 6th.

Their conclusion?

“Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended.”

Now, I have a bit of a confession to make.  I am gullible.  More so when I am tired, and as I haven’t been sleeping well of late, I am very tired.  Look at the meme below …

I fell for it.jpgI’m sure all of you see the irony here, see the lie.  I fell for it, hook, line and sinker.  I was telling my girls about it … I said, “Hey, guess what … last year Hallowe’en was on Friday the 13th!”  They both looked at me to see if I was joking, but when they saw no grin (I cannot lie straight-faced) they both burst out laughing.  Finally, they had to explain to me … and now I have egg on my face.

egg-on-face.jpg

So, if you are reading this, then you must have gotten through Friday the 13th without landing in the hospital or worse.  And now, it is Saturday morning and time to start enjoying this lovely autumn weekend!  Do something fun this weekend!  Oh … before you go … one of the suggestions for this feature was to host guest posts, and I would like to do that next week, if anybody is interested in writing a bit of something fun for us all.  Colette?  I know you have some ideas.  Bushka?  How about one of your lovely poems?  If anybody is interested in taking a turn for next Saturday’s post, drop me an email dennisonjill@aol.com.  Please put “Saturday Surprise” in the subject line, in case it goes to my spam folder, so I will recognize and rescue it!  Have a great weekend, friends!

Friday-13th

Roger’s Book Launch — CONGRATULATIONS!

Our friend Roger Llewellyn (woebegonebuthopeful) has just published a new book available on Amazon, Of Patchwork Warriors: (Being Vol.1 of the Precipice Dominions).  While I would love to be able to write a review to include in this post, I cannot, for while I have read a few chapters here and there, as Roger posted them on his blog, my own schedule was such that I missed more than I read.  So, here is the introduction from the Amazon page:

Patchwork Warriors

“There came an era when the threat of incursion from the infernal other world realm of the Zerstorung was strong, placing the survival of entire unsettled Oakhostian Empire at risk and thus disparate forces began to marshal, to take up any cause or seize any opportunity.

There in the background The Ethereal, The Stommigheid or The Astatheia just a few names for the force which had arrived upon The World in Ages faded from record. Viewed either as a pernicious creature seeking to control, a power for good, an aspect of Nature to be treated with caution or a means to an end, it remained a constant. With an oft forgotten tendency to engage with the unwilling, the unassuming and the unruly from the ranks of lesser folk whose consequential and various struggles would unsettle many a careful plan.

This is the tale of three such, an innocent housemaid, a dutiful soldier and a self-appointed scourge of evil quite unaware the safety of an Empire would soon be resting on them.

They did not take uniformly or conventionally to the task, for that was the way of things, when involved with The Ethereal, The Stommigheid or The Astatheia.”

Though I cannot review the book as yet, I can tell you from the bits I have read that this tale is fun and the characters whimsical and delightful.  I found one who reminds me much of me … I will not tell you who … you can figure it out as you read the book.

Roger likes to make up words … he sometimes makes up words for me to use in lieu of others in my somewhat … colourful vocabulary.  For this book, he has almost invented a whole new vocabulary, words for which he helpfully provides brief explanations at the beginning.  Some are so much fun that I may take to using them on occasion, for example “Twonk – Elidian term of insult.  Means ‘fool’” (Surely I can think of a few people to call twonks!).  Or one of my very favourites “Kerfluffeg – A Karlyn word for confusion or confused” (I can use that one on myself most often!)

Roger also designed his own cover for this one, and I think he deserves kudos for both a book well-written and a charming cover.  Now, obviously, I wish all my readers would hop straight over to Amazon  and buy this book.  It is only $0.99 USD … c’mon guys, that’s less than a bottle of water!  But if you prefer, at least download the free sample and read that … at which time you will know that you must buy the book!  Or at the very least, pop over to Roger’s blog, heroicallybadwriter,  and congratulate him, for I know that he has worked long and hard on this book.

Congratulations, Roger … beautiful cover, beautiful book, and a job well done!  I will read and review as soon as humanly possible.  And thank you, my friend, for the mention on the dedication page … you brought a huge smile to my face with that!

Now readers … go check out the book!!!

In Support Of The 1st Amendment – Senator Ben Sasse

I am finding some things to like in some of the republican members of Congress these past few weeks.  Some of them are beginning to realize how dangerous the man in the Oval Office is, how inappropriate his words and actions are, and how he is sullying the office and all that it stands for.  And they are speaking up and speaking out.  Unfortunately, those who are beginning to realize what is happening are also some of the ones who are declining to run for re-election next year.  Figures.

ben sasse.jpeg

Senator Ben Sasse

I knew very little about Senator Ben Sasse until yesterday, though I had heard the name.  But yesterday, he impressed me … not once, but twice, both times in defense of freedom of the press!  It started when Trump fired off a series of ridiculous tweets claiming he might consider retaliation against NBC for a story they printed that Trump claims to be untrue, and then a general threat against all ‘network news’.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” 9:55 AM – Oct 11, 2017

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” 8:09 PM – Oct 11, 2017

Ben Sasse responded in tweet with …

“Mr. President: Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment?” 9:03 PM – 11 Oct 2017

I cannot think of a more appropriate response.  Good job, Ben Sasse!

And then came Trump’s appearance on Idiot of the Week Sean Hannity’s program.  Here is a brief excerpt …

Trump: Media is bad. They are really dishonest people. These are very, very dishonest people in many cases, in many cases. And not all. Look, I know some reporters, I know some journalists that are phenomenal people, very straight, very honest. But there’s such dishonesty. I mean, you know, it’s interesting. If I was just watching television, you don’t know whether or not because, you know, you’re just watching a report. But when you’re the one being written about, you know if it’s good or bad and it’s always, they try and make it negative. So, the media — I call it fake media. It is fake. It is so much fake news. And we have to understand —

Hannity: Do you agree with that? Fake news?

Trump: You know, and I only say it, so when people read things, they can understand that so much of it is indeed fake.

After the interview, Hannity apparently saw Senator Sasse’s tweet and responded …

“One of the biggest mistakes in my career was supporting @BenSasse. Just useless,” 10:37 PM – Oct 11, 2017

And Sasse again responds with wisdom and without vitriol …

“Sorry, Sean — you changed, not me. Some of us still believe in the Constitution. No President should play with censoring news they dislike.” 5:29 PM – Oct 12, 2017

Now, I am not a fan of this back-and-forth tweeting.  I think the heavy reliance government leaders place on Twitter as their primary mode of communication is unprofessional and a deterrent to intelligent speech.  However, my point today is that here is a republican senator who is willing to stand for the 1st Amendment right to free speech and a free press, and that impresses me.

A quick trip to Senator Sasse’s Facebook page shows a letter to his constituents dated February 2016 in which he explained to them that he could not, in good conscience, support Donald Trump, and he very soundly stated his reasons.  I could question, of course, where he stood during the vote to repeal and replace ACA, for obviously his was not one of the much-needed ‘nay’ votes.  But for the moment, I will content myself with the fact that he is supporting the press rather than the ‘man’ who is seeking to constrain the voice of the free press, the voice of America.

I have created a new award that I will issue on occasion, when I feel it is deserved, and Senator Ben Sasse is the first recipient of Filosofa’s Golden Thumbs Up Award

golden thumb upPaul Ryan also came out in support of a free press when speaking with a reporter, though he sidestepped mentioning Trump …

“I’m a constitutional conservative. I’m for the First Amendment. I don’t always agree and like what you guys write, but you have a right to do it. And I’m a constitutional conservative, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s threats to revoke the broadcast licenses of NBC or any other legitimate news outlet are empty threats … at least at this time.  First, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) only licenses individual stations, not networks like NBC.  While station licenses can be questioned by community members, it has been more than twenty years since the FCC has refused to renew a broadcast license, and the odds of them doing so now are slim-to-none.

Even so, Trump’s threat must be considered dangerous, for Trump’s new FCC chairman, installed in January, is Ajit Pai, a man who is openly against internet privacy, a strong supporter of Donald Trump, and I do not trust that he might not be willing to tweak a few rules to keep Trump happy.  Interestingly, while criticizing the legitimate, mainstream press, Trump gives conspiracy theorist and purveyor of fake news, Sean Hannity, an interview.  Speaks volumes, don’t you think?

All Before Noon!!!

Little Donnie Dark apparently got up on the very wrong side of the bed this morning, for already as of this writing (it is now noon where I live) he has made three horrendous decisions.  Would somebody please tie this ‘man’s hands?

U.S. Withdraws From UNESCO, The U.N.’s Cultural Organization, Citing Anti-Israel Bias

The United States plans to withdraw from UNESCO, citing financial reasons, as well as what it said was an anti-Israel bias at the U.N.’s educational, cultural and science organization. –  October 12 at 10:40 AM

UNESCO was established after World War II to help promote global cooperation around the flow of ideas, culture and information. UNESCO’s mission includes programs to improve access to education, preserve cultural heritage, improve gender equality and promote scientific advances and freedom of expression.

This would not be the first time the U.S. withdrew from UNESCO.  We did so in 1984, under President Reagan when he felt there was pro-Soviet sentiment in the organization. Though most people will shrug their shoulders about this move, it is yet another sign that Trump places no value on international cooperation, human rights and global cohesion.  It is another step toward U.S. isolationism.


Trump Threatens To Abandon Puerto Rico Recovery Effort

Trump served notice Thursday that he may pull back federal relief workers from Puerto Rico, effectively threatening to abandon the U.S. territory amid a staggering humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Trump on Thursday sought to shame the territory for its own plight. He tweeted, “Electric and all infrastructure was disaster before hurricanes.” And he quoted Sharyl Attkisson, a television journalist, as saying, “Puerto Rico survived the Hurricanes, now a financial crisis looms largely of their own making.”

He also wrote: “We cannot keep FEMA, the Military & the First Responders, who have been amazing (under the most difficult circumstances) in P.R. forever!” –  October 12 at 11:00 AM

Just last week, Pence visited Puerto Rico and promised that the U.S. would be with them “every step of the way”.  The people who live on the island of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.  How on earth can anybody with a conscience simply abandon them?  The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote later today on a $36.5 billion disaster aid package that includes provisions to avert a potential cash crisis in Puerto Rico prompted by Hurricane Maria. If it passes, will Trump even sign it? Would Trump similarly abandon the people of Texas and Florida who are also struggling to recover from hurricanes Harvey and Irma?


Foiled in Congress, Trump Signs Order to Undermine Obamacare

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that clears the way for potentially sweeping changes in health insurance, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and fewer protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

“With these actions,” Mr. Trump said Thursday, “we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market, and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare.”

“This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for,” the president predicted, “and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.”

But most of the changes will not come until federal agencies adopt regulations, after an opportunity for public comments — a process that could take months. – 

Apparently Trump thinks that if Congress won’t legislate his agenda, he can simply bypass them and write his own law.  Trump has decided that he will repeal ACA all by himself.  Fortunately, as stated in the last paragraph of the above excerpt, it is not that simple.

executive orderLook at the above picture … every single one of those people applauding Trump’s signing of the executive order to undermine the health of the citizens of our nation … every single one of them has excellent health insurance, a portion of which We The People pay for.  Think on that one for a minute.


These three decisions before noon today make me wonder what else he plans to destroy by the end of the day.  With the exception of his threats to Puerto Rico, the actions have been in the works for some time, and I realize that he did not just hop out of bed this morning and write executive orders.  But it sure seems like he is on a mission to first isolate our nation, and then destroy it from within.  If he cannot achieve ‘legislative wins’, then he will take matters into his own hands.  Excuse me, but this is not how a democracy works!