Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Weird War of Words

I have been on record criticizing the authorities of Saudi Arabia as the worst people in the world, with their oppression of women, corporal and capital punishment for ridiculous things like blasphemy and sorcery, their export of intolerant religious fundamentalism, their near-genocidal war against Yemeni Shiites, and material support for terrorist groups. I can't think of a more loathsome coterie of fanatics.

Currently, the Saudis are involved in a diplomatic conflict with, of all places, Canada, over criticism of the kingdom's human rights record. They have withdrawn diplomats, expelled Canadian diplomats, pulled students out of Canadian universities, and restricted trade. Sadly, other nations have not stood by Canada in this conflict.

The real bizarre dimension of this conflict is the hamfisted attempt by the Saudis to wage a disinformation campaign, complete with claims that Jordan Peterson is a political prisoner and allegations of camel abuse. I cannot think of a sillier international spat.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Not the Hero We Want, But Perhaps the Hero We Deserve

I have a confession to make... years ago, I watched a good bit of season one of The Apprentice- I was living in a house with a bunch of old friends, a sort of beach house without an ocean, and we often watched the show to see what a train wreck it was. Also, one of the contestants was a local girl, the daughter of the owners of a nearby pizzeria. Back then, I suspected that Omarosa was an actress, a 'ringer' who was hired to stir the pot and cause conflict in order to boost ratings. It was actually a pretty good role, especially for an African-American woman, an elegant, intelligent, and ruthless go-getter who was far from both the servile mammy or sexualized Jezebel stereotypes. She was a 'heel', maybe even a villainess, but she wasn't a stereotype. I'm still sort of shocked that there never was a 'reveal' in which she whipped out her SAG card and proclaimed it all an act.

The act took on a new, surreal nature when Donald Trump hired her to work in the White House... here was a live-action version of a Disney villainess spilling out into what passes for the real world. She was the perfect embodiment of the draining of the swamp (wetlands being vital ecosystems) and the installation of a cesspool- though she was always a minor villain compared to monsters like Pruitt, Bannon, Miller, and the like. Her firing seemed like yet another reality TV drama- no doubt she'd be rehired in time to boost the Sweeps Week ratings.

The revelation that she has recorded numerous conversations during her tenure in the White House (including her recording of John Kelly in the supposedly secure Situation Room) comes as a shock, but not a surprise. She is as familiar with Donald Trump as anyone outside his family could be, and she must know much of what ended up on the cutting room floor when The Apprentice was edited. She's the shifty, grifty conniver who knows exactly how to handle other shifty, grifty connivers. I sure hope she has a bunch of recordings secreted away with an attorney as a life insurance policy.

As much as I can't stand Omarosa, she has emerged as a genuine anti-hero with these recordings. She's unsympathetic, but she's not the sort of individual who wants sympathy, and she has managed to rattle her even more unsympathetic ex-boss like nobody before her. If her actions result in the downfall of PotUS Dotus, then she will have served her nation well. It's hard to root for her, but she's a damn sight better than her newfound enemies.

At any rate, this administration has been little more than a WEE style soap opera, and it seems like Omarosa may have done a major heel-face turn. Well, here's a little limerick inspired by this development:


A crafty gal named Omarosa
Recorded some things said sub-rosa.
She kept the 'receipts'
Eliciting tweets,
From Donald, the moron who chose her.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

It Was About Unity, After All

Thankfully, the Unite the Right 2 rally ended up being a total non-event, without about a score of sad-sacks ending up surrounded by thousands of counterprotestors and leaving in disgrace. The entire Unite the Right 2 effort was completely undercut and overwhelmed by the unity of average Americans who want to 'secure a future' for everybody's children.

This is exactly what happened in Boston last year, when alt-righties tried to conduct a hatenanny. Big cities, especially Northeastern ones with stringent firearms possession laws, are not friendly environments for concentrations of fascists. We like our diversity, we aren't sympathetic to authoritarians. Let's hope that this sad little 'rally' teaches these assholes to stay in their (mainly online) safe spaces.

I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to remember the life and work of Heather Heyer, who was murdered by a neo-Nazi terrorist. I would chalk up much of the repugnance toward the alt-right to the killing of this iinnocent young woman, and like many others, wish to see her martyrdom result in a more decent society.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Deny Them a Foothold

Tomorrow's Unite the Right 2: Ethnocentric Boogalo in DC promises to be a real shitshow. My suggestion for a counter to the rally is echoed in this plan to block attendees from parking at the Vienna, VA metro station. A similar denial of parking tactic used in Vancouver, WA, stymied transportation to the recent Portland 'Patriot Prayer' shitshow. The best tactic to use against these assholes is one of 'jamming'- force them to expend more effort to get to and from the destination- fill up the trains, cluster in the streets going toward Lafayette Park. Most of the attendees will be outsiders... force them to find alternative transportation, make them walk blocks out of their way to get to where they want to be. There's no need to engage with them, simply amble along the streets like clueless tourists, making frequent stops in order to obstruct the sidewalks. Make the out-of-towners feel 'all at sea', many of them aren't city folk, and are unused to the congestion of an inner city- frustrate them simply by living as an urbanite. Deny them a foothold, and do it in a manner that they can't even counter. Mess with their logistics.

Also, deny them any comfort, figure out where the public bathrooms are and occupy them, restrict them from your places of business, make them use up resources like gasoline and bottled water. It's supposed to be a stormy day in DC, deny them a place to get out of the rain. These people want their little war, give them confusion. I'm a judo player, and our sport is about controlling, rather than injuring them (though we are capable of messing someone up, it's not our purpose)... control the movements of these assholes, control the unfamiliar (to them) urban environment. There's no need to be confrontational, simply show them how insignificant they are in a large, diverse metropolitan environment

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rancho Del Rana

I have noted before that my jobsite is home to a plethora of large amphibians. We have the sort of bullfrogs that endanger even snapping turtle hatchlings. I mean, these things are all maw and hind legs! These are exactly the sort of beauties that could have earned you BIG BUX, because retro magazine ads never lie:




Yeah, back in the 1930s, frog ranching was the industry of the future... I mean, how could you possibly fail? It's just as easy as raising silkworms.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Not the New Branch We Need

The big policy story of the day is Mike Pence's speech at the Pentagon arguing for the creation of a Space Force, which promises to be an eight billion dollar boondoggle that will line the pockets of Marilyn Lockheed. Meanwhile, Russian hackers are targeting the US power grid and the Republicans blocked funding for electoral security... a cyberspace force would be more sensible, given the nature of the threats to our nation.

Well, with the increasing incidence of wildfires and storms due to climate change, a wide-focus scientific defense force would be the best response to the multiple threats that we face as a nation and a species. Longtime readers will know that I am talking about the creation of a Science Ninja Team. Groovy bell bottoms are optional:




Of course, with Pence involved, I can forsee an eight billion dollar 'creation science ninja team' boondoggle.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Was Geddy Lee Playing a Joke?

I have to confess that I actually like several songs by Canadian libertarian band Rush... though I find their earnest Libertarianism to be silly and their sci-fi lyrics are often goofy, I have to admit that a song like Red Barchetta gives me goosebumps. While poking around the t00bz, I found a reference to a Rush song I'd never heard, 1996's Virtuality, which in typical earnestly nerdy Rush fashion is about the internet:





It's certainly not the band's best effort, but it's inoffensive. What struck me about the song was lyrics of the chorus:


Net boy, net girl
Send your signal ’round the world
Let your fingers walk and talk
And set you free



I was immediately reminded of Elton Motello's 1977 trash classic Jet Boy, Jet Girl, which was recorded over the same background track later used in Plastic Bertrand's better known (because it's not filthy and problematic) Ça plane pour moi. Even though I am listening to it on the job, Jet Boy, Jet Girl is not safe for work (working alone has its benefits):





The Damned adopted the song as part of their repertoire:





I wonder if Geddy Lee and his bandmates were having some fun when he wrote the chorus to Virtuality, or if it was a fluke. While their oeuvre tends to be earnest, if not necessarily serious, Geddy was known to participate in a joke occasionally.