Friday, April 21, 2017

Dow Chemical or Exxon: Which is more evil & destructive?

There are so many polls on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet where the questions are skewed or the results are otherwise known before the first respondent drags a cursor to a radio button. However, in the battle to decide which of two companies in the news this week, Dow Chemical or Exxon, is more odious, my gut tells me that this should end up in a 50%/50% tie.

Vote and spread the word so we can harness the wisdom of crowds.

Tomorrow's Earth Day! Don't forget the March for Science tomorrow, and the People's Climate March next Saturday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Today's Fine White Whine comes from Bill O'Reilly's lawyer.

It's amazing how the people who would have been supporters rather than targets of Tailgunner Joe in the 1950s are becoming fond of throwing around charges of McCARTHYISM! now whenever they find themselves under attack. The current right-wing occupant of the White House famously misused that label against the former occupant of the White House last month over fake wiretapping charges, and now the lawyer for another infamous right-wing sexual harasser, Bill O'Reilly, is pulling out the charge again in this legal whine:
"Bill O'Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America. This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons.
“That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable."
Wah. Wah. Wah.

In addition to playing the victim, it's also amazing how people on the right are always looking for financial motivations among those on the left. The current White House occupant is always asking about who is paying the millions who are demonstrating against him; I think it's actually hard for him to believe that so many people would act without monetary compensation, just as it might be hard for Bill O'Reilly to believe that many feel it's simply a public service to speak out against primetime television hosts who bully guests, sexually harass and demean women, and spread untruths that have played a role in lifting an unqualified kleptocrat into the White House.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Harnessing the judicial wisdom of crowds on the Trump-Russia scandal

Twitter should really provide more than four spaces in their polls, because the following list should have about ten names on it, but I'm starting with Paul Manafort, Mike Flynn, and Rudy Giuliani as my likeliest suspects for the earliest #TrumpRussia indictment. If your choice is Carter Page or Roger Stone or Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump or Jeff Sessions or... , then please reply to the tweet with your favorite Trumpster.
I'm leaving this up for seven days, so please spread the word to increase the size and wisdom of our crowd.

Monday, April 17, 2017

"It was the old old story of the sacrificial lamb."

Channel 13 in New York broadcast Judgment at Nuremberg on Saturday night. The following scene with Burt Lancaster as German judge Ernst Janning stuck out to me as having some contemporary significance, so I'll simply share it without further commentary.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his most important speech exactly fifty years ago.

In my last post I pointed toward the dramatic end of Dr. King's life, which took place 49 years ago today. Exactly one year earlier, on April 4, 1967 at Riverside Church in Manhattan, he gave what very well may be the best and most important speech in his brilliant career.

The speech is commonly referred to as "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence." In 1967 it was a brave move to come out so strongly against the war, advocating (among other things) conscientious objection among draft-age men, an end to U.S. bombing and a unilateral cease-fire, but the speech was so much more. It would be just as radical, and just as timely, if delivered today, 50 years later, when we have a billionaire president looking to increase a bloated military by another 54 billion dollars while cutting programs for the poor and middle class to exacerbate atrocious economic inequality.

Please read Martin Luther King's whole text, but here's a taste from that historic speech...
... When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. 
   A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
    A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. 
   A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. 
   America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. ...

Please read the whole thing here at Stanford's King Encyclopedia website.
Here's a story about the speech that was on NPR's All Things Considered tonight.
Here's The New York Times' "When Martin Luther King Came Out Against Vietnam."

"...Early morning, April four / Shot rings out in the Memphis sky..."

So which decade is Melania Trump living in?

 According to an article in the French edition of Le Huffington Post, many are reminded of 1980s soap operas when they see the First Lady's new official portrait, but according to Germany's Der Spiegel, it's the 1990s (and PhotoShop) that are evoked by this bland glamour shot.

So, which is it?

Click Here for the Der Spiegel article.
Click here for the Le Huffington Post article.

I thought it was the 1970s.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Final Match of The Untruthful Trump Tournament Has Been Set.

On March 16th we began with 16 Trump lies.  That was narrowed down by Twitter voters to 8 lies on March 20th, 4 on March 26th, and a few minutes ago Twitter funneled the Trump lies down to the final two.
The recent lie that President Obama had wiretapped Candidate Trump at his golden lair at the top of Trump Tower was beaten 57% to 43% by the original lie that brought Trump ridicule on the left and among people who respected facts, but political prominence among racists, nativists, and the illiterate, that President Obama wasn't born in the United States.
In the second semifinal match, his post-election lie that Hillary Clinton only beat him in the popular vote (65,844,610 to 62,979,636) because 3 to 5 million illegal aliens voted for her narrowly defeated (52% to 48%) his repeated denials of sexual assault and harassment from over a dozen women.

So here's your final match in The Untruthful Trump Tournament.

You have a week to vote and share this question with your Twitter friends.

James Rosenquist 11/29/1933--3/31/2017

I just got an update from the New York Times website that James Rosenquist has died at 83.

Here he is on a MoMA video speaking about 'F-111.'

Happy Whan That Aprille Day 2017

WHAN that Aprille with his shoures soote 1
The droghte 2 of Marche hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich 3 licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth        5
Inspired hath in every holt 4 and heeth
The tendre croppes, 5 and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne, 6
And smale fowles maken melodye,
That slepen al the night with open ye,        10
(So priketh hem nature in hir corages: 7
Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,

Read the rest of the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's masterpiece here on or in a million other places, but these first 12 lines of The Canterbury Tales need to be known by every English speaker as well as any other dozen lines of poetry ever written in our language.

Learn more about the annual celebration of dead languages known as  #WhanThatAprilleDay17 by checking in with @LeVostreGC on Twitter or reading this interview with Geoffrey that appeared on Pacific Standard yesterday.

And how can you fully appreciate the opening lines of the great long English poem of the early 20th century without familiarity with the great long poem written at the tail end of the 14th century?

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers. 

Happy April.