A Sundry Assortment: Winter Olympics 2018

Before I start on my sundry assortment of 2018 Winter Olympic observations, I must say that after Mueller’s indictment of Russians meddling in the 2016 election,  I tripped across the comment “It is still possible Mueller could still indict Americans for knowingly helping Russia.” ¹ (Hat Tip: WTFJHT)

And I thought: All 63,985,134 of them? Mueller might be taking names …

Bwahahaha! Okay. Enough. On to a couple itty-bitty Olympic-size observations.


Men’s Figure Skating

I happen to be liking Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir commentary. Not at first and every now and then, sure, I’d still like them to shut up. But as Mr. Viva & I watch an entire skating event, as the precision of performance on the ice goes up, their rate of commentary goes down. And when I listen to them yammer, they do know of what they speak. They have occupied Olympic ice.

Which brings me to presence. For many men,”sports” do not depend on having a “presence.” And let’s face it, the best figure skaters exude a dynamic presence on the ice. Figure skating is not about facing down an opponent or other team and overcoming by scoring more points or beating them up.

And this is why many men don’t see the sport in Men’s Figure Skating competitions. No one is tackled. No harm. No foul. There is music. There is choreography. There are not uniforms.  Individuals wear “outfits.”

No sport.

This explains a lot.

Speaking of Presence

Johnny Weir has presence in spades. He is a joy and a delight!

And I love that his hair last night in profile — swept up and back and very black — reminded me of my great-aunt Amy. And she was beautiful.

Thank you, Mr. Weir.

Pink Floyd takes the ice.

Thrown into the mix of classical music during the final skate of the Men’s Ice Skating championship last night was a skate to a Pink Floyd medley including Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Money.

And then Mr. Viva & I reflected. Pink Floyd’s song Money was released in 1973 or forty-five (45) years ago.

It a classic.

Now it’s like, classical …

Extreme Sports

Back in the day, more than 45 years ago, in black and white, I watched skiers go off the end of the ski jump and watched the official tape measurers measure the length of the jump.  And catching air and sailing, ski tips to the nose while in flight, landing with maximum distance. I was mesmerized.

I haven’t been followed the addition of new extreme winter sports to the Olympics. And so, I watch drop-jawed gobsmacked the half-pipe snowboarding and aerial freestyle skiing or whatever it’s called, events. (“The US Stunk at Winter Olympics Until Extreme Sports Came Along”)

Hurl yourself down a ski jump, flip a couple times in the air, land backward and ski to the next jump which is taken backward, perform a couple more flips, land. This is extreme. Also, the face plants into snow and ice on some spills are painful just to watch. I’m relieved when the athlete gets up and waves their arms and … they’re ready to go again? What!?

And I wonder what sports get added after Extreme Winter Sports? Extreme Winter Sports on Steroids? No, steroids are banned. Extreme Winter Sports Plus? Extreme Men’s Figure Skating? Extreme <insert event that’s not yet extreme here>?

Or maybe the Olympic Committee could consider adding age categories.  Give the ‘olds’ some medals. Extremely Old Winter Sports.  Aging out is not an option.

I mean, we can sing along to Pink Floyd.


¹ ¹Strohm, Chris. Mueller Still Investigating Possible Collusion, Source Says” Bloomberg. 16 February 2018 2:32 PM CST. Web. 17 February 2018.

Scientific Notation: A trillion.

When I was in third grade, The Weekly Reader reported that the national debt per person was about the same as the cost of a new car.  I remember thinking, ‘I can’t pay for a new car! I can’t even drive a car.’ My future was doomed even as I knew that car would be red. Since third grade, the national debt has gone up and come down but the trend of late is definitely up. Cleanly and clearly driving in the red.

The current GOP tax bill is projected to add about $1.5 trillion (USD) to the national debt. Not to be outdone, Prescedense OTUS proposed a $4.4 trillion (USD) budget which, net of income, would throw many more trillion on the national debt. (And the words ‘Trump budget’ sound like an oxymoron.)


A trillion is a 1 followed by 12 zeroes (000000000000).  Reading the word ‘trillion‘ doesn’t have the same impact as seeing the number 1,000,000,000,000.  Represented in scientific notation, a trillion looks like 1×10¹² and ten raised to the twelve (10¹²) looks big … because it is BIG!

I propose that numbers like the US national debt and the budget be spelled out using scientific notation. Scientific notation emphasizes that the number is not of human scale. It is not in your lifetime.  I did the math. It would take 396.372399797 lifetimes lasting 80 years each to count to one trillion. No time for food or any other comfort. Each second counts. For 80 years.  And 400 lifetimes. Whoa!


Although writing $1,500,000,000,000 adds more ink and more space by including all the numbers, writing $1.5 x 10¹² adds gravitas and looks all sciencey and interesting. It looks other-worldly. As a number, it is as hard to wrap my head around the space of a trillion as it was to imagine paying for and driving a red car in third grade.

The space of a trillion.  The space of all those zeroes. The zeroes of space, the last frontier. By means of illustration, this picture was taken from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Due to sentence construction, the article seems to imply that the Hubble Space Telescope is a trillion miles from earth. It is not. But the photograph itself is of a spiral galaxy about a trillion miles from the earth. And to our point, the article contains this very valid observation:

Looking at this stunning image forces one to ask: what mysteries and life forms exist there?

And so I would suggest that space and applying scientific notation to the national debt gives us pause to wonder where we are headed with all this debt and what mysteries miseries will exist for our children and their children and what form will life take in the future? Let’s face it, the current administration and circus in Washington don’t give much credence to science, scientists, the scientific method, or much consideration to future generations, or shoot, us even.

So, for all we owe ourselves, I think we owe it to ourselves to apply scientific notation to the national debt.  Here we go:

$20.632X10¹² (US Debt Clock.org: snapshot taken 2018.02.16, 12:30 PM)

Hmmm.  I’m incredulous. Stunned. Representing the national debt in scientific notation underscores that most of us don’t understand macroeconomics and economic theory.

It’s like, science, dude.


In closing, as we consider gun control shoot our ‘thoughts and prayers‘ for the victims of AR-15 weapons of mass destruction into the void, let’s add a ‘thoughts and prayers’ chaser for the national debt. Afterall, the nearest black hole is only about 27,000 light-years away or 158,722×10¹² miles. Or 69,913,020 lifetimes of 80 years.

Ugh.

Boiling up some frogs.

On the black-and-white vacuum-tube TV of my youth, Hee Haw¹ was for lazy Saturday afternoons.  In answer to the question “Hey Grandpa, what’s for supper?”, I’d watch Grandpa Jones rattle off menus in horror and sick fascination.

A sample Grandpa Jones Hee Haw menu:

“Here’s what’s on the menu tonight: Turtle stew with onions and crackers, wild greens, stewed auger holes and bread puddin’. “


I enjoy reading science fiction. I don’t make time to read the genre often enough but as I tripped into a Twitter thread by a sci-fi writer, I thought of Grandpa Jones and boiling frogs. According to biology or urban legend or Wikipedia, if frogs are placed in a pan of tepid water and then the heat is turned up, the frogs won’t realize they’re exothermically stranded until the water boils and it’s too late.

We are frogs in water in a pan.

Viva Q. Public finds it nearly impossible to assess the wreckage the Trump cluster sh*tshow administration delivers continuously to our democracy and its strained institutions. What is the temperature difference between a tepid democracy struggling along and a full-blown boil of a dystopian dictatorship or an authoritarian state or a <insert non-democratic form of government here> government?

Just how hot is that water?

This is the full Twitter thread that itemizes some observable changes in public discourse in the transition from a democracy to a dictatorship. From sci-fi writer G. Willow Wilson, (my bold):

 G.(@GWillowWilson) “It’s a mistake to think a dictatorship feels intrinsically different on a day-to-day basis than a democracy does. I’ve lived in one dictatorship and visited several others–there are still movies and work and school and shopping and memes and holidays.

“The difference is the steady disappearance of dissent from the public sphere. Anti-regime bloggers disappear. Dissident political parties are declared “illegal.” Certain books vanish from the libraries.

“The press picks a side. The military picks a side. The judiciary picks a side. This part should already feel familiar.

The genius of a true, functioning dictatorship is the way it carefully titrates justice. Once in awhile it will allow a sound judicial decision or critical op-ed to bubble up. Rational discourse is never entirely absent. There is plausible deniability.

“People still have rights, in theory. The right to vote, to serve on a jury, etc. The difference is that they begin to fear exercising those rights. Voting in an election will get your name put on “a list.”

“So if you’re waiting for the grand moment when the scales tip and we are no longer a functioning democracy, you needn’t bother. It’ll be much more subtle than that. It’ll be more of the president ignoring laws passed by congress. It’ll be more demonizing of the press.

“Until one day we wake up and discover the regime has decided to postpone the 2020 elections until its lawyers are finished investigating something or other. Or until it can ‘ensure’ that the voting process is ‘fair.’

“A sizable proportion of the citizenry will support the postponement. Yes, absolutely, we must postpone elections. The opposition is corrupt! Our leader is just trying to protect us! A dictator is never without supporters.

“And hey, if we pull ourselves back from the brink and the midterms go ahead and the 2020 election is free and transparent and on time, you are cordially invited to point at me and laugh. Honestly. No one will be happier to be wrong than me. Fave this thread. I will laugh with you

“Since people are panicking prematurely in my mentions: I’m not suggesting that this chain of events WILL happen. I’m saying that if we were to slide into authoritarianism, this is how it would look. Bc many USians seem to think autocracy looks like something off the Syfy channel.

“(I actually think we are done a massive disservice by most western dystopian fiction for this reason. It lies about the way real dystopias actually look and feel.)

30 Jan 2018 12:09 PM. Tweet.

Boom! There it is. “Bc many USians seems to think autocracy looks like something off the Syfy channel.”

Meanwhile, the water comes to a boil.


¹ Hee Haw. Oh, my. Today I cringe at this reference. I can, however, sing the chorus to “Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me.” Really.

On this TGIF Friday!

And we love our redundancy. Thank God It’s Friday Friday!

And government shutdown is likely. For the record, the GOP currently controls muddles along in the Senate, House, and Executive branches of government. Essentially, the GOP is playing with a majority of political marbles and they have the shooter — the big marble used to knock other marbles out of the ring. Prescedense OTUS, their shooter, isn’t very good at marbles though.  Golf is more his bag. But we mix metaphors and we digress.

The previous government shutdown in 2013 was over funding for the ACA during the Obama Administration.  That shutdown was driven by … the … GOP in a fight to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Fast forward to 2018, same dance, different song. Instead of dancing with healthcare insurance, we’re dancing to the new tune, DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. And the GOP is again taking the lead in the dance toward shutdown.

Shutdowns are more expensive than the Prescedense golf outings and the dollars don’t measure the stress of those affected but the DNC is standing ground on a DACA replacement or agreement.  And good!  The lead in this dance is a  heavy lumbering clod the GOP.  Supposedly, there was a bi-partisan bill on DACA but complaints about the deal — “maximum amnesty, minimum border security, and no cuts to legal immigration” — are deal breakers for … the GOP.

Let’s break those deal breakers down.

  • Amnesty is an official pardon for people who have been convicted of political offenses. Dreamers were children brought here with little or no choice.
  • Border security. Children raised on this side of the border are adults living here NOW. Deal with your issues of insecurity over an unsecured border in other legislation.
  • No cuts to legal immigration.  Don’t tie legal immigration to dreamers. They were children. They are adults. Make a way for legal US citizenship.

If there is no deal for the dreamers, the US will become an exporter of educated, tax-paying contributing legal-status seeking citizenry refugees. Sit with that while the government shuts down.


Read also US refugees: Misplaced persons.

A Sunday Sundry Assortment

What a whirlwind week it has been!  The list I made last week gives me lots of topics to investigate and focus on that aren’t  politics, but here I am again with my binoculars pointed toward Washington … go figure.

Dodgeball: White Goodman

The character White Goodman in the movie “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”, (2004) — reminds me of the Prescedense — clueless, cheap, arrogant, an *ss**le. He thinks Kate Veatch is attracted to him because he is attracted to her.  She is not.  He thinks she works for him. She doesn’t. He believes his privilege and position make him a winner.  He isn’t.

So when it was reported that the Prescedense loves his McDonalds, I can’t shake the closing credit image of White Goodman, antagonist, chowing down on his sorrows.  I do not include a link. You have to Google it yourself, (‘White Goodman Dodgeball closing credits’).

You have been warned.  You cannot unsee it.

White House smoke & mirrors.

From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks and this week it was reported that during a discussion of immigration policy, the Prescedense referred to certain countries as ‘shithole countries.

And yes, I’m taken aback. And no, I’m not surprised.

And so this week, the New York Times with their motto of “all the news that’s fit to print,” gained a word that’s now fit to print — shithole.

Is the plural of POTUS, POTII? Asking for a friend.

Well, previous POTII have used salty language in White House meetings and it has not made national news in such a bigly way.  Why now? Who decided we should all be outraged over his language? The words from his mouth reflect the abundance in his heart and we are not surprised. But this time, this administration, someone in the room and someone in the MSM decided Teflon Don’s pronouncement — his exact words —  were news worthy.

No, with the current cage match the Prescedense is waging with the office of President OTUS, respect is gone.  Trump did not respect the office before he was elected. He doesn’t respect or step-up to provide behavior, the gravitas expected of someone sitting POTUS.  His tweets, his statements — winners, losers — he treats his role like it’s reality TV. And for the most part, the MSM treats the events in the cage, the events under the big tent like entertainment.

But it is smoke &and mirrors.  While you’re busy twittering on and on about ‘shithole countries’, magicians work on the other bigger s*it that’s happening.

And we are not entertained. (Link: “Trump’s racism is more than rhetoric – it forms policy and ruins lives”, by Sarah Kendzior.)

 

S*it*ole.

I like asterisking the ‘h’s in shithole.  It looks almost foreign.  S’it ole. Maybe it is a greeting. A term of endearment.

Word Mash-up: Pronounciation

Pronounciation (n): A bold declaration of an alternative way of pronouncing a word.

Pronounciation is a mashup of the words pronounce (v): declare or announce, typically formally or solemnly and pronunciation (n): the way a word is pronounced. And by way of example, we offer the following pronounciations:

Shi•the•ad:  SHY-thê-äd

As•sho•le:  as-SHO-lay

Bastard is still BAS-tard though.

Wheel of Fortune: Public Service Announcement

If you’re ever a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and you’re spotted the letters R, S, T, L, N, and E, the solution to:

S – – T – – L E

– – – N T R – E S

is ‘SHITHOLE COUNTRIES’ as stated by a R – – – S T  – S S – – L E.

MSM: Stop it. Get out from under the tent.

Bark, bark, bark! Get angry. Stay angry.

This headline from OZY captures the mission of the MSM: “Annoyed, Frustrated, and Outraged? You need this Nigerian word.”

I am reminded that when you enter a circus, a zoo, a barn, a smelly place, it stinks and after then after you acclimate, it really doesn’t smell at all.  The MSM is still trying to tell us that is it smelly in here.  It is smelly in the Trump circus. We know.  Make note and move on.

The circus is on the move. Follow the money. Income tax statements. Real estate transactions. Follow the documents that get signed, the policies that are implemented.  You are killing us with the chase to publish click-bait. We are sick of the diet of circus cotton candy.

Drilling in Hawaii

For 45 minutes Saturday, Hawaiians were exercised in a drill that had kicked off with the words ‘THIS IS NOT A DRILL.’

How is this? I have participated in bulk electric system restoration drills.  The #1 Rule: Every statement, every announcement, every conversation and announcement end contains the words “THIS IS A DRILL.”

If the Prescedense had not been preoccupied with golf, would we now be busy at another war?

SMDH.

DNC & the SOTU address

Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. John Lewis among others will not attend the State of the Union address this year.  And that is their right, their perogative, and good Lord, they’ve earned it.

For Democrats who choose to attend —  I mean, you will have primo seats at the circus — comport yourselves with the same solemnity and respect as at a funeral.

Wear black. No smiles. Solemn all the way around. Pay your respects to the dying.

And I would love to see Kamala Harris deliver the rebuttal in the form of a eulogy celebrating the passing of the traditional American values that are missing from the Trump Administration — truth, liberty, equality, independence … it’s a long list.

 

 

 

Taxes vs. the Common Good

With the projection that the tax reform bill which passed this week will throw another $1.5 trillion dollars on the national debt over the next decade, I was reminded of a quote from Ernest Hemingway:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

― Ernest HemingwayThe Sun Also Rises

and combined with The Tipping Point — an idea and a book by Malcolm Gladwell:

“The tipping point is the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.” (Google)

I wonder if this political experiment called the United States, this democracy, has hit a tipping point?

  • Did we hit the tipping point when we decided Social Security was a good idea? (1935)
  • With Medicare and Medicaid? (1966)
  • Various and sundry wars through the years? Ugh. Now that’s a long list …

Can we continue to afford capitalism? Pure unadulterated obeisance to business to solve any and all economic problems?

Well, the GOP Tax Reform Bill passed this week. And with some of the last minute additions to the bill — I’m looking at you Bob Corker — “taxation without representation” has morphed into “no taxation with representation.” Which, when you think about it, explains the Kochs — the Charles & David. But I’ll save that for another time. This is a time of good cheer.

Due to cold weather, the celebratory beer lap around the White House Rose Garden in golf carts has been postponed. Also, Trump had to get to Mar-a-lago. 

A Merry Christmas to you all!


As I rifled through my list of draft posts, I tripped across the Vox editorial by a former Wisconsinite who noted that his quality of life is better. In Sweden. Where there are

… more TAXES!!!

And it reminds me that at one time improvement and maintenance of the “common good” in the US was a priority, a goal. Taxes were not a necessary evil. Taxes paid for education, for infrastructure, for common defense, for all the things in the Preamble to the Constitution. The strength of our struggled union can be measured by our individual freedoms and the quality of life afforded to all. Not just a few. All of ‘We the People,’ the whole collective, the Common Good.


In closing, consider the metaphorical economic teeter totter – businesses at one end have taken our money and continue to take our money — I’m looking at you now, Apple — and they have run off to work in other playgrounds leaving our Common Good butt hurt on the other end of the totter, on the ground, awaiting trickle down.  Maybe we’ll have lunch money.

And the playground monitors don’t address playground shenanigans, changes to the landscape, the changing rules. After all, they’re part, parcel, and party to all of it. (And I’m still looking at you Bob Corker.)

Recess is almost over. The trading day ends. The bell will ring.¹


¹ Love me my mixed metaphors.

A sundry assortment of musings.

Today I will try my best to not pontificate with my bullhorn on my orange crate in my little corner of the internet as I’m wont to do.

Here we go anyway:

Fearless Girl & Time

And not tick-tock time! On December 1, 2017, I identified women who have joined the company of ‘Fearless Girl’ and Time Magazine’s annual Person of the Year 2017 is The Silence Breakers — more company for what ‘Fearless Girl’ represents. The Time stories are painful — “if you do [speak out], your complaint becomes your identity“¹ — but this is literally facing down a figuratively charging bull.

An avalanche started.

GOP Tax reform.

No taxation with representation! And that would be representation in the form of dollars — Kochs, Mercers, Adelsons, et al.

Representation of voters?

Eh, not so much. In word only. Overall,  suppression is going well. Just show up as an adult, present, able and accounted for and it will not be enough.

We require ID.

Eh?

Hard to obtain an ID?

Well, no worries. Our national experiment in a pluralist democracy may be over soon.

And we’ll return to historically scheduled ‘taxation without representation’ programming shortly.

Trump & GOP Tax reform.

He benefits. But his estate benefits bigglier when he is dead.²

Polling all millenials …

Well this is good news! From The Independent, “a majority of young people in America want a third party involved in US politics.”³ And so do I and I feel young again!

I hope Millenials can organize, identify leadership, establish a party platform and a snappy name. Bring it.

I’m here for you kids.

Project Runway Season 16: A new development. Cliff hangers.

In the run up to the finale, Project Runway featured episodes that ended in cliff hangers and we had to tune in next week to see the runway results.

I don’t know whose idea this was, but stop it. Stop it future seasons of Project Runway.

There is too much drama going on in the regular news cycle and it is hard to keep up.  We do not need more drama in our reality TV show competitions.  We need less.


¹ Zacharek, Stephanie; Dockterman, Elianan; Edwards, Haley Sweetland. “The Silence Breakers.” Time Magazine, Person of the Year 2017. December 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

² And so do the rest of us. Harwell, Drew and O’Connell, Jonathan. “The many ways President Trump would benefit from the GOP’s tax plan.” The Washington Post. 10 November 2017. Web. 08 December 2017.

³ Sampathkumar, Mythili. “Majority of millenials want a third party in US politics, new poll says.” The Independent. 29 November 2017 19:45 GMT. Web. 08 December 2017 11:40 AM CST.

Aside: In a different political environment, I would also include bullhorn screams at Democrats. After all, we should all be better in our struggle for a more perfect union.  As such, due to the current GOP majority rule, I hold my rage at the Dems back.