Good News, Bad News for Planet Earth

For sheer amount of damage done in the fastest time since assuming office, Jair Bolsonaro has got Donald Trump beat all to fuck. No telling how many people these fires will actually kill, but he’s giving Benjamin Netanyahu a run for his money as well. Boris Johnson looks set to preside over a disaster, and the U.K. may even lose Northern Ireland, but that fiasco was set in motion two Prime Ministers back. He’s a clueless twit, but he didn’t do all the damage himself.
Of course, you could say that forest fires are a natural phenomenon, but in the Amazonian rain forest, they are not. I don’t know whether to blame this on global warming, or commercial deforestation gone out of control, or if it’s actually deliberate, because Bolsonaro at first didn’t even try to fight it (although it seems he’s given in to public pressure and is making some, albeit shockingly late, effort. It totally fits in with his policy of kill all the Indians.
It’s a bad day for planet Earth, no doubt about it.
On the other hand, Bernie has revealed his climate plan, and it is awesome. Small organic farms (improving the environment while providing lots of jobs), high speed rail (getting cars off the road and forcing the airlines to be a bit more competitive), electric cars and charging stations, conversion of the grid to solar and wind power, all sorts of cool stuff with actual target dates, and, of course, because it’s Bernie Sanders and he’s the only politician to ever do this, an explanation of how it’s going to be paid for (largely by sale of all the newly created energy, but also a bit of reduction in the military budget and higher taxes on rich people)
It’s the Green New Deal on steroids, all grown up and ready to face the world, it’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s a blueprint for the survival of the human race.
Let us hope, for a change, the good guys win this one. I’d like the Earth to survive.

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David Koch is Dead. Good.

I have been notified by over a dozen people on Facebook that David Koch is dead. Not one person has expressed sadness, or respect, or condolences to the family. And I don’t think there’s going to be, either.
Of course, his death doesn’t change anything. Our political system remains as corrupt as he made it – or, at least helped to make it. I don’t want to give him too much credit. And we may all die in a global warming catastrophe. He’s partially responsible for that.
In fact, I’m totally O.K. with nobody writing words of praise. He was a shit.
But nothing will change also because why would it, really? One rich old man is dead. Other rich people will pick over the bones, but as far as the politician-owning business goes, I expect that will stay in the family. I’m sure brother Charles will step up to the plate.
I’m happy with his death. Apparently, almost everybody is. Just don’t hold your breath expecting it to make a difference.

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Voyager and Warriors

I was watching a bit of Voyager today, like 3 or 4 episodes, and it suddenly struck me how similar it is in plot and theme to the 1979 cult classic The Warriors.
Since I enjoyed that film, I felt no conflict in the comparison.

Think about it, though: The Voyager crew (the Warriors) were hurled into the Delta Quadrant (North Bronx) and are trying to find their way back to Earth (Coney Island). Along the way (in every episode) they meet rival gangs (evil aliens) who are dressed in the most outrageous costumes ever seen outside of a Pride Parade. And they proceed to either beat the hell out of them or escape from them in some very clever way. The fight scenes may take place with baseball bats (phazers, photon torpedoes) or other strange devices (really, in the 24th damned century, what is the point of something like a batleth existing?)

I suppose it’s a classic plot line, trying to fight your way back home. Come to think of it, that’s the plot of the Odyssey, and that’s so old nobody knows if the author even existed.
So, why mess with a winning formula?

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Joe Biden is Senile

It’s hard to know at one point ‘a propensity for gaffes’ becomes ‘clear evidence of senility’ but it’s clear that Joe Biden has passed it.
Since becoming a candidate for president, he has sent potential followers on a wild goose chase by saying “Go to Joe 30330” instead of “text 30330,” referred to Theresa May as Margaret Thatcher (twice), and confused Burlington, Iowa with Burlington, Vermont, which I guess is understandable. He’s running for the presidency, not applying for a job as a travel agent. He’d be a disaster as a travel agent.
He has also said, while speaking at an Asian-Latino conference “Poor kids are just as bright and talented as white kids.” It may not be actual proof of racism, but it sure sounds racist, somehow. In response to a week of back to back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, he offered sympathy to the people in “Houston and Michigan,” which took some of the heat off president Trump, who offered his condolences to people in Toledo. It’s as if they are in a competition for who can say the stupidest thing. At the Iowa State Fair (a lot of these gaffes seem to have happened in Iowa – I don’t think that’s relevant, but I haven’t seen anybody else point it out yet, so there it is) he said “We choose truth over facts,” which is kind of a strange thing to say. Truth is good and all, but facts are also good, and facts are true, so what was he saying, really?
But none of those gaffes are as damaging as the ones in this video, where he seems to say that Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated in “the 70s, late 70s.” Now, it could be argued that he was correct, because he was talking about when he got engaged in politics and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King had been assassinated by then (1968), but then his explanation was rambling and incoherent and implied that men have better memories than women and something something hippies. It was slurred. Really, just watch the video. Share it with everybody. It is clear evidence that Joe Biden belongs in a nursing home, and not on the campaign trail.

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The New Burger

As with many things that I don’t care a lot about, I will wait and see. It is interesting, though, if it’s true. Burger King, and a lot of other places that sell hamburgers, are peddling a new kind of burger, a veggie burger but not like previous veggie burgers.
The word is that scientists have finally figured out what gives meat it’s delicious flavor that makes it so much more viscerally desirable than vegetables, and you really can’t tell the difference. Well, we’ve heard this kind of thing from vegetarians before. I remember, decades ago, I’d been hearing from a lot of my vegetarian friends that tofu burgers were delicious, you couldn’t tell them apart from meat, so I tried one.
Well, I hate to call a whole class of people liars, but they were at best seriously delusional. I can accept that. They see it as a moral cause and are willing to propagandize a little bit. It’s not like a deliberate misrepresentation, more that they got carried away with their own bias. It happens. We can still be friends, but tofu does not taste like meat.
Will this be the same, or will it totally taste like meat?
Bear in mind, this is not the experimental science where they take a few meat molecules and stretch them, essentially turning it into a factory process and making animal-less meat. This is the science that puts together a mix of vegetables, spices, whatever to wind up with an artificial meat flavor.
Both hold promise for the future. I love eating meat, but if either of these technologies can replace it, it might go a long way toward saving what little rain forest we have left.
I’ll write on this again after I get around to trying it.

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Respect

I just saw a very interesting post on Facebook. Paraphrasing. “Everybody says that respect has to be earned. That’s not true. Disrespect has to be earned. Respect should be the default position.”
And that’s kind of true. As you go through life, as you walk down the street, it just makes life more reasonable if you respect everybody. You may not give to the beggar sitting and blocking the doorway, but you should respect them. You may totally despise your boss, but you don’t walk into their office and pee on their potted plants. Respect. It’s what society is built on.
There are lots of other phrases like that, which people repeat and post on the internet but when you think about them they’re not exactly true. They say ‘the early bird gets the worm’ but it is ‘the second mouse that gets the cheese.’ ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ almost directly contradicts ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ They say ‘You can’t please everyone’ but really, shouldn’t we be trying? Also, some people come very close. Who doesn’t like Audrey Hepburn? Who doesn’t like Betty White? Who doesn’t like Kermit the Frog? They say ‘honesty is the best policy’ but Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning are in jail, so it wasn’t really the best policy for them. People thought there was a possibility that Jeffrey Epstein might turn honest, in return for a shorter sentence, and look what happened to him. (like most people, I just don’t believe the suicide story)
There are lots of little sayings like that. I guess we need them, because thinking of all the exceptions and all the different angles would make our brains hurt and not necessarily be productive. But, you can always turn something around, or just on it’s side a little bit, and you’ll see something different. Well, maybe not always.

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The Perfect Ride

We had a lovely little bike ride this afternoon, just Helena and I. Sam has not been feeling well the last couple of days, so I didn’t expect him to come, and Isabel declined as well. I was O.K. with that. Quality time.
We rode through our local park, in front of the 17th century military hospital that gives Invalidovna its name, and then through the soon-to-be-completed neighborhood just this side of the bike path that goes along the river, on which we turned left, toward the center.
Helena suggested we pay a visit to ┼átvanice Ostrov, that is, ┼átvanice Island, and I said sure. Despite the fact that it’s a part of the local landscape, it’s an island and, never having a reason to go there I’ve probably only been on that island two or three times, and we went to the bottom end of it, where I’d never been before. We stood and watched the water pouring over the weir. “Niagara Falls!” I said, and Helena ignored me. We saw a father and son standing in the water below the weir and calmly fishing, and it wasn’t even up to their knees. Then we biked up toward the northern end of the island, sat on a bench, looked across the river, and shared a Bounty candy bar. Then we rode back.
It was perfect weather for a ride. Cloudy, and it just started to rain when we were almost home.

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