Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Failing Upward

Via Tengrain, we find that former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, the architect of the odious Show Us Your Poopers Law is to be summoned to Trump Tower, perhaps to audition for a position in the Trump Kleptadministration. Tengrain asks what position McCrory might fill in Trump's regime...

I think he's going to head the Office of Inspector Genital.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Happy Birthday, Sweetums!

As is traditional for me on December 5th, I am extended birthday greetings to my older brother, Sweetums. Sweetums received his nickname from my super-sarcastic sister, who was delivering a snarky 'Marcia, Marcia, Marcia' speech about him... "Oh, he's so perfect, he never does anything wrong... oh, Sweetums, Sweetums is so perfect!"

The rest of us decided that she was right, he WAS perfect, and the name 'Sweetums' stuck. It's funny how something meant as a jab can, by virtue of its accuracy, become a moniker. At any rate, Sweetums is still perfect, a good husband, a good father, an all-around good guy, and an amazing brother. Happy birthday, 'Tums.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This Is Why Sitcoms Aren't Educational

Today, I am working in a site I don't work at all that often... it's sort of in the hinterlands, although still well within the 'commute to New York City' radius. I arrived at work shortly before sundown, and was greeted by one of the resident turkeys flying to roost in the branches of a tall oak tree for the night:




Upon closer look, I saw the rest of the flock (for the record, a bunch of domesticated turkeys is known as a rafter or gang) could be spied roosting in the same tree, about fifty or sixty feet above the ground:




As God is my witness, I know turkeys can fly:





Of course, these are the lean, muscular wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo)... to be fair to the WKRP writers, the overfed, overbred domesticated turkeys would probably plummet to the earth unlike their wild forebears.

In the interest of full disclosure, I failed to photograph the other bird which immediately caught my eye when I arrived, the first bald eagle I've seen this season... I did get to see it take wing and fly off over the adjacent tributary of the Hudson.

Legend has it that the turkey was in the running to be our national bird, alongside the bald eagle. Just imagine, if things had gone otherwise, we might be getting e-mailed pictures of crying turkeys from our wingnut acquaintances.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Make Mordor Great Again

One of my bloggy heroes is Tengrain, who I often refer to as the 'Patron Saint of Small Bloggers'. He's been a great supporter of not only myself, but of other denizens of this bloggerhood. I have to note a bit of not-at-all acrimonious disagreement with him regarding this post, a disagreement which stems from my disagreement with the Washington Monthly post to which he links... the author posits that Hillary Clinton's campaign failed to point to a villain, but I think that's bunk... the real problem is that a bunch of bigots decided that fellow victims, people much more marginalized than themselves, were the villains. There's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in, for example, watching a bunch of Mexican immigrants laboring in a field and characterizing them as lazy moochers (a perennial calumny aimed at African-Americans who toiled without pay to enrich their masters since before this country existed), and there's a lot of cognitive dissonance involved in believing that a serial-prevaricator and kleptomaniac would do anything to stop the immiseration of the working and middle classes.

Tengrain comments on the post:


One of the great archetypes of literature and film is the little guy triumphing over evil. From David and Goliath to Frodo vs. Mordor, the best heroes are the everyday, average people, who find themselves in an extraordinary situation and somehow or other win.


The problem is that the Trump voters believed that Frodo is the villain, sneaking over the border of Mordor in order to commit terrorist acts against Barad-dûr and to put the Ringwraiths out of work by imposing burdensome regulations against Evil Sorcery. They voted for Sauron, and he’s going to Make Mordor Great Again.

Tengrain continues:


We on the left don’t tell stories, we recite facts. We believe (correctly) that the facts matter, but we don’t know how to give them context. So instead of telling a story, we implore our audience to listen to and study our earnest 200-slide Powerpoint presentation, and learn from their betters… and we end up wondering why we lost?


The problem here is that the stories, based on facts, are out there... We have facts about climate change, but the story is written in blood and wreckage in the 'reddest' region of the Heartland. We have facts about Obamacare, but the story is being written about the loss of benefits that accrued to impoverished Trump voters.

The problem with liberals 'telling stories' is that these stories, rooted in facts, cannot penetrate the bubble of epistemic closure (NY Times link, so ration those clicks). The potential audience for these stories has been pre-conditioned in their churches, their firing ranges, their right-wing media cocoon, to characterize any 'leftist' narratives as lies, facts to the contrary be damned. The typical Donald Trump voter could be hit over the head by a wind-borne Ford F-150 and still believe Dear Leader's lie about Anthropogenic Global Warming being a Chinese hoax.

I don't have any answers to this dilemma... I just don't know what sort of narratives could convince the typical Red State Trump voter. I am an uber-nerd who attends science lectures in a bar, I live in a neighborhood with a very high immigrant population, two of my dearest friends and mentors are Muslim men, I have friends and co-workers from a wide array of backgrounds, creeds, sexual orientations. There is no narrative I can communicate with a Trump loyalist which wouldn't be seen as suspect. I've spoken to these people, and they tend to reveal their true ugliness to me because I look a lot like the guy in my profile picture, and they tend to see me as simpatico.

Again, I wish to stress that I have nothing but love, respect, and admiration for Tengrain, but I just can't see this strategem working. Tragically, the aggrieved white bigots who supported Trump are going to have to hit rock bottom before they reconsider their support for a guy who is going to further immiserate them. Even more tragically, they are going to take the rest of us down with them, and I didn't sign up for a one-way trip down the caldera of Mt Doom.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Welcoming Committee

As recent readers will know, I am in the process of moving, but my new place is in the same neighborhood, about six blocks away from the old place. I've been moving stuff in a few boxes at a time (the main items, as longtime readers would probably guess, are books and booze), and getting rid of stuff- clothes I haven't worn in ages (there's a dropoff box for stuff not too far from work), old documents, antiquated electronics (I dropped off a bunch of e-waste this afternoon).

In the course of my move, I've met a couple of the neighbors, one of the upstairs tenants (my new arrangement is eerily similar to the old one- an apartment in a three-family house, I just have an entrance in the back of the place and better yard access), and a next-door neighbor who I took an instant liking to. Leo is originally from Westmeath, and he is exactly the sort of Irishman you'd want for a neighbor- quick with a laugh, eager to lend a helping hand to others, a hearty, good-natured fellow. I also met his yellow Labrador, Setanta, and immediately joked that it was a perfect name for a dog. Leo laughed and noted that his wife is from Ulster, so they named the dog in honor of her roots. He noted that most people that he meets aren't familiar with the name, and I told him that I have Roscommon antecedents, then quickly added that I have Italian, Swiss, and French antecedents as well, then joked, "You need two things in this world, roots and wings." Leo let out a good-natured chuckle at that and I gave Setanta a well-received scratch behind the ear.

I think I'll do just fine in the new place. Here's one for my new doggy friend:





POSTSCRIPT: The one bummer in this move is that Katy, my letter carrier for the past decade, won't be delivering my mail at the new address. She's a really great person, and she knows everything that goes on in the neighborhood. Luckily, I will probably run into her now and again during my strolls through the neighborhood... it's not like I'm going far away.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, Vincenzo

As is traditional on this day, I am taking time out to wish my brother Vincenzo a happy birthday. Vin is one of those erudite guys who is well-versed in history and current events, possesses a knack for languages and an anthropologist's discernment when it comes to interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. He's a devoted husband, a doting father, and an all-around great guy. Did I also mention that he has an encyclopedic understanding of punk rock? Here's an appropriate number from the Lurkers, a band which Vin always jokes makes the Ramones look sophisticated:





I don't need to tell ya, Vin's a super fella. Happy birthday, fratello!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Realizing I'm Not Getting a Nablopomo This Year

Checking over this month's posts, I realized that I didn't put up a post on the 5th, so I won't be eligible for a NABLOPOMO like I was in 2011... so close. It's no biggie, though, I did once write 24 posts in 24 hours in the course of a long, bizarre day on the job during which I worked a 12-8, 4-12 split-double shift. Ah, those were the days- thanks to Jennifer for putting that idea into my head.

At any rate, I don't have to put up a blog post tonight just to get a NABLOPOMO in this year.