August rambling: bots botch puns

“Today I find the mask useful”

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XKCD. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
I woke up from a dream earlier this month. The only thing I remember is someone saying Bots botch puns. Please leave your psychological analyses in the comments.

Could American Evangelicals Spot the Antichrist? Here Are the Biblical Predictions.

What Makes Trump an Autocrat?

Maryanne Trump Barry says He has no principles.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: US is making a mockery of the phrase a jury of your peers and Border Wall II.

Steve Bannon needs to watch The Inspectors.

Mnuchin paved way for postal service shake-up.

Trans Women Who Report Abuse in Prison Are Targets of Retaliation.

Aging memories may not be ‘worse’, just ‘different’.

CDC: Social Determinants of Health.

Harriette Cole: Have I been blind to my white friends’ true feelings?

Movies Misled the Masses. Can They Lead Us Into a More Equal Future?

Inside the Courthouse Break-In Spree That Landed Two White-Hat Hackers in Jail.

Placebos prove powerful even when people know they’re taking one.

Family of a young NYS Corrections Officer killed in a drunk-driving accident had some blunt advice for those reading his obituary.

Arthur writes about toxic positivity.

Brain waves can be used to predict future pain sensitivity.

How to Learn Everything: The MasterClass Diaries.

The American Scientists Who Saved London From Nazi Drones.

Pentagon’s UFO Group Is Officially Active, After Years of Secrecy.

The untold story of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress.

Countdown – the game show of spelling, math, and whoopsies.

What is SEO

What is a 2nd cousin once removed?

Chuck is fifty-seven.

Audio link, almost ten minutes of a 1959 Stan Laurel interview.

COVID-19

The Trump Pandemic: A blow-by-blow account.

“Immune to Evidence”: How Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracies Spread. To wit:

Dangerous Oleander Extract Not a Cure, despite What He Said.

CDC Details Its Massive Mental Health Impact.

Today I find the mask useful
along with sunglasses
to hide my tear streaked face,
not wanting to scare the barista
who has enough to deal with
behind his own mask.
-Transitions” by Tammi Truax, poet laureate of Portsmouth, NH.

Mississippi School Opening Disaster.

Email Phishing Scams – Bad Actors Seeking to Take Advantage through “SBA Loan Application”.

Navajo Nation residents face coronavirus without running water.

How rocket scientists would approach planning to reopen schools.

Think it kills the centuries-old practice of sharing business cards? Think again.

COVID language.

XKCD. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
DNC

Joe Biden in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for US President; Fact-checking him. (He does quite well, unlike his opponent’s Monday speech at the RNC.)

Hidden messages in Elizabeth Warren’s video.

Bernie Sanders speech, and link to others.

Now I Know

Why the Zebra Got its Stripes and The Stranger Things About a Scientific Constant and You Don’t Have To Be A Big Shot and The Turtle With Bricks for Wheels and The Aliens in the Cupboard and From Facebook to Mug Shot.

New blog

Alison Stonbely’s blog, Secrets of the Forest, looking at art and racism.

For the record

I really don’t care about Jerry Falwell Jr.’s sex life. Consenting adults and all that. What was loathsome has been his sanctimonious hypocrisy and his golden parachute.

MUSIC

Lyric Quartette by William Grant Still.

Outerspace – Zbonics and Rebecca Jade. Plus Sobrina Taylor interviews Rebecca Jade!

Pop Psalms: (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding – Nick Lowe.

Solace: A Mexican Serenade by Scott Joplin.

Coverville 1321: The Sparks Cover Story and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us – The Sparks.

K-Chuck Radio: The World of the Black MIDI.

The Curse of Ham – Buggy Jive.

Christopher Cuomo – Randy Rainbow.

Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas.

DOLLY PARTON Steers Her Empire Through the Pandemic— and Keeps It Growing.

Have I lived the life I wanted?

Canaan’s descendants settled in the land of Canaan!

canaanIn the Boston Globe recently, there was an interesting title. “If I die now, have I lived the life I wanted to?” The subtitle: “The pandemic has people examining their lives. Some don’t like what they’re seeing.”

“Spouses are being left, retirements pushed up, friends dropped. People are moving to rural spots and strengthening their faith, and those fortunate enough to have a choice are saying ‘no’ to commuting.”

But I don’t think it’s just the pandemic. As the article noted, “A married couple have taken stock of their lives… They have been hanging out with the wrong people — friends who were nice to their faces, but, they now realize, are selfish. The friends refuse to wear masks or support Black Lives Matter, stances that rule out any further relationship.”

So it’s all of it: IMPOTUS, COVID-19, George Floyd and all of the ramifications of each. It’s certainly true for me.

Let me let you in on a little secret. I hate writing about race and racism in America. The only thing that I hate more is NOT writing about it. There is a hole in my stomach, probably from acid reflux, when I don’t write what I am feeling.

So I have come to a conclusion. There’s a woman in my life who is really upset with me. It is because I told her, in an email discussion in late June, that IMPOTUS was a bigoted person. Therefore, her support of him appeared racist to me. She says she’s “devastated.”

Old Testament

My realization, my culpability in this, is that I held back in the past. For instance, when she laid out to me that black people became slaves in America because of the curse of Canaan. I wrote about this theory five years ago.

From here: “Canaan’s descendants, however, did not settle in Africa, but in the land to which they gave their father’s name—the land of Canaan!… Later, Joshua conquered this land and placed the Canaanites under forced slave labor (Josh. 9:23)…. Thus, the prophetic curse of slavery was literally fulfilled on the Canaanites. The curse, therefore, applies to no ethnic group in existence today. The mistaken idea that Ham’s African descendants are cursed is a myth too often repeated even to this day!” And it’s out there a lot.

When I finally did figure out the absurdity that she was talking about – even assuming that the Bible is literally true, which she does – I might have called her out about it. But I didn’t, in the name of peace. But, as it states in Jeremiah 6:14-15:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
Are they ashamed of their detestable conduct?
No, they have no shame at all;
they do not even know how to blush.

My disservice to her, then, was not saying something sooner. It’s not her support for IMPOTUS that is the reason I believe her views are racist; that just codifies it. It’s because of her views on the curse of Ham, and the seeming glee she had sharing this with me five or six years earlier. And some other things too.

Steve Derrick; beautiful nurses’ eyes

portraits of healthcare workers

eyes.Steve derrickOn the Road with Steve Hartman introduced me to Steve Derrick, an artist from Clifton Park. He “has produced more than 100 portraits of healthcare workers as they ended their shifts, many of them nurses at Albany Medical Center.”

The artist paints portraits of medical workers and captures their exhaustion treating Covid-19 patients. The subjects are weary, tired, brave, bruised, and raw. “Steve Derrick’s paintings depict the spirit of healthcare heroes on the front lines.”

“To escape the overwhelm of the pandemic, he engaged in painting. He says, ‘there was so much negativity on the news. This gave me something positive to think about while sitting in quarantine.'”

I found the story so touching, so compelling that after seeing it on the CBS Evening News on a Friday, I watched it again on CBS Sunday Morning. “He presents the finished portrait, a moment in time that omits no detail, to each of his subjects, and refuses payment.” Herrick’s actions have become part of a movement.

The eyes have it

Beyond this story, I’ve discovered that I have spent a whole lot more time looking at the eyes of people wearing masks. I find almost all of them are beautiful. Without seeing the whole face, it’s been necessary to discern how another is feeling. I’m required to actually look at people in a new, and arguably, better way.

Googling “eyes,” I came across a poet and short story writer named Avijeet Das. He wrote: “Eyes speak. Eyes say the unsaid words. Eyes express feelings. Eyes convey emotions. Eyes are eloquent. Eyes are tender. Eyes are sensitive. Eyes are captivating. I can’t help looking into eyes. I am always fascinated by eyes. If I were a painter then I would love to paint the eyes of the people I meet and come across.”

CBS’s Steve Hartman asked painter Steve Derrick if he were painting the nurses at their worst. Derrick totally disagreed. It is his belief that he has captured them at their best. I believe he is correct.

July rambling: The True True Truth

Blind Tom Wiggins and Ulysses Simpson Kay – black composers

arguments-against-wearing-a-parachute
Arguments against wearing a parachute.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License


Who Are Those Guys? – Customs and Border Protection agents in Portland, OR.

Why Hundreds of Mathematicians Are Boycotting Predictive Policing.

Looming Immigration Services Shutdown May Fuel Voter Suppression in 2020.

Apologies that aren’t apologies, 2020 edition.

They’re trying to kill the Postal Service so they can privatize it.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: China & Uighurs.

The Cancel Culture Debate.

Methane is mysteriously leaking from the sea floor in Antarctica, edging global heating to a point of no return.

The Truth About Micromanagers.

People who like embarrassing or angering others find social media more addictive.

Violin Makers’ Dark Future.

Patriotic Millionaires.

The Lincoln Project ads: How It Starts and Trumpfeld and The Wall and New.

The No Cars Experiment.

Why You Should Travel Without a Smartphone.

The Sisyphean Quest to Bring Back Discontinued Foods.

An Oral History of Big Mouth Billy Bass.

How the Ice Cream Truck Made Summer Cool.

I am spiritually Finnish.

Actor John Saxon, RIP.

Gone With the Wind’ star Olivia de Havilland dies at 104.

The sons and daughters of John Wayne, John Lennon, Caitlyn Jenner, and others tell what it was like to grow up with a world-famous dad .

Rotten Tomatoes: 100 Worst Movies Of All Time. I’ve seen zero of them, FWIW.

Race

Rep. John Lewis wasn’t seen as a hero from the beginning — and there’s a lesson in that. Plus Barack Obama delivers his eulogy.

A new word in my vocab: misogynoir, where racism and sexism meet.

The health disparities of systemic racism.

ERIC Crow, Jim Crow’s liberal twin.

Peggy Shepard is Featured in CBS Environmental Racism Story.

I’ve not read it. Thoughts? Robin DiAngelo’s best-seller White Fragility is a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves.

Characteristics of white supremacy culture and, from NPR: White supremacist ideas have historical roots in U.S. Christianity.

“I Have Struggled”: Black TV Journalists Talk George Floyd Coverage, Industry Diversity.

Calling on the Ancestors: The Gift of Ralph Ellison.

Now I Know

The Post Office That’s Underwater and The Cheeseburger on Ice and When Video Games Go Bitter and International Wallyball and When Bread Breaks Arms and The Politician Who Went to Prison.

COVID
Confirmed Cases.
Confirmed Cases. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 3.0 Unported License

Health care executives fear public distrust of vaccine will lead to the continued spread of disease.

John Oliver on coronavirus conspiracy theories, and related, The True True Truth.

Inside His Failure: The Rush to Abandon Leadership Role on the Virus.

DeVos’s Plan to Reopen Schools Hides a Sinister Agenda and Back to School.

We’ve Reached Peak Libertarianism — And It’s Literally Killing Us.

Buddy, first dog to test positive for COVID-19 in the U.S., has died.

How to make masks that everyone will want to wear.

Why Pandemic First Dates Are Better and We Found Love in a Hopeless Place.

Gee, Anthony Fauci -Randy Rainbow.

MUSIC

Lincoln Center version of Carousel starring Kelli O’Hara and Nathan Gunn available until 8 PM ET on September 8.

Rebecca Jade! Live From The Merc with Peter Sprague (7/26) and Home Made, Part 4 (7/25).

Everybody Cries – Rita Wilson, from “The Outpost”.

The Battle of Manassas, by Blind Tom Wiggins.

How Can I Keep from Singing – NYC Virtual Choir and Orchestra.

Fantasy Variations by Ulysses Simpson Kay.

A rock concert of 1,000 performers.

Coverville 1317: Cover Stories for Beck and Jack White and 1318: The Slash Cover Story.

If the world was ending – JP Saxe.

Hamilton Cast Tribute To The 40th Anniversary of A Chorus Line (2015).

Longest Time (Quarantine Edition) – Phoenix Chamber Choir.

Jumpin’ Jive – Cab Calloway with the Nicholas Brothers number from Stormy Weather.

Lean on Me – Bill Withers (live).

K-Chuck Radio: Order in the Court”.

“BIG DADDY…STRANDED IN THE JUNGLE” to ten (audio version) episodes!

Real countries fight COVID-19

Masks Are Great Again

It’s been a while since I wrote a COVID-19. If I lived in a country that took on the situation with, you know, science, we’d be on the downside of the curve. Back in mid-March, when Individual 1 said he was a wartime president, combating in combating the novel coronavirus, I thought “fine.” Though a tad hyperbolic, I thought, finally, he’s taking it seriously.

Of course, he then mucked it up bigly, with lies about everything from how long the virus would last to the availability of PPE.

Worse, though, was his astonishing self-contradiction. “Slow the testing down,” he says in Tulsa on June 20, where Herman Cain likely contracted ‘serious’ COVID-19 symptoms. His press secretary said he was kidding; he says he doesn’t kid. He proved it by moving to end federal funding for over a dozen testing sites. And he said he believes anyone who dies from Covid-19 is a ‘loser’.

Some of the states followed his lead into an infection disaster. Dr. Anthony Fauci says that if the US doesn’t take drastic action to arrest the spread of the coronavirus, we could see 100,000 new cases a day. We’re already more than halfway there.

Yahoos such as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick claimed Fauci was “wrong every time on every issue” related to coronavirus. Patrick is the guy who, earlier this year, had suggested it was acceptable to “exchange” the lives of seniors in order to save the economy.

Ticking me off

It’s clear that “wartime president” response is shrinking. He seems to have waved the white flag. Is COVID-19 spreading too rapidly to be brought under control? “It’s not just discouraging. It’s enraging. The virus may be a natural development… But the reaction to that virus was a series of human choices.”

The United States could have had a coordinated federal testing program but it did not and does not. A 60 Minutes investigation has found that federal officials knew many COVID-19 antibody testing kits had flaws but allowed them to enter the U.S. market. Laredo, Texas is one of the many locales stuck with flawed assessment tools.

The United States doesn’t have a national system of case management and contact tracing. Leaving this to the states is grossly irresponsible.

The United States doesn’t have consistent nationwide regulations on how to conduct social distancing. The country relies far too much on local mandates as to when businesses and gatherings should be closed, or when/whether to enforce stay-at-home orders.

Masks are political?

Possibly worse, the United States doesn’t have something as simple as a national mandate to wear masks. They have been proven as one of the most effective measures in slowing the speed of the virus. Instead, you get to see Florida’s anti-maskers “taking a stand” for a false sense of freedom.

The webpage Medpage Today implores:Docs Must Stand Up for Public Health Officials. “We have laws against defecating in the streets. Is that infringing on somebody’s rights?” asks an exasperated Ted Mazer, MD.

Even “Fox & Friends” co-host Steve Doocy is on board with masks. “I think that if the president wore one, it would just set a good example. He’d be a good role model. I don’t see any downside to the president wearing a mask in public. MAGA should now stand for ‘Masks Are Great Again.’ Let me give you some marketing advice right there.”

As the recent Randy Rainbow song parody proclaims, COVER YOUR FREAKIN’ FACE!

We are dooming ourselves

The LA Times reported on July 3, “As California faces an alarming surge in coronavirus cases, officials desperate to keep people inside and away from crowds that will spark new infections are facing a challenging reality. Even though COVID-19 is just as dangerous as ever, people are less afraid of it, and that lack of fear during the Fourth of July weekend could bring disaster.” Throughout the country, social distancing protocols are clearly breaking down.

In the “are you kidding” category: Alabama students allegedly invite infected guests to ‘COVID parties’ in hopes of catching the virus. There are a lot of COVIDIOTS out there. Weak and selfish people, IMO.

As the Boston Globe reported recently, “With confirmed coronavirus cases spiking across the Sun Belt states, a range of evidence suggests that a job market recovery may be stalling. In those states and elsewhere, some restaurants, bars and other retailers that had re-opened are being forced to close again.” It’s also causing a strain on the medical infrastructure.

The Census Bureau notes “Adults in Households With Children Report Higher Rate of Late Housing Payments and Food Shortages Amid COVID-19.”

In other words, we could have had that downward trend that we knew how to do. But we didn’t. The Europeans don’t want American travelers. Folks in the Northeast want folks from the Sun Belt to self-quarantine for a couple weeks. The economy – the ostensible reason for opening up – is poised to tank as states are forced to close again.

Your optimistic assessments in the comments, please. I don’t have any, myself.