Thursday, November 30, 2017

Vin's Birthday

November 30th is my brother Vincenzo's birthday, so I traditionally convey my birthday greetings to him on this day. Vin is still active duty in the US Army, and has had quite an adventurous career, one which has taken him from American Samoa (where he trained a National Guard unit) to the Mideast (for last decade's misadventure) to Liberia (where he was involved in the response to the ebola outbreak). He has always had an anthropologist's knack for cultural observation and a talent for picking up languages, talents which have served him well overseas. He could have been a whiz in the State Department if he hadn't gone for an officer's commission back in the 90s.

Happy birthday, fratello Vincenzo.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Harassin' Feeler

From the 'I never would have seen this coming in a million years' file, Garrison Keillor, the mellow originator of A Prairie Home Companion, has been fired by NPR for sexual misconduct allegations. While I didn't often listen to Keillor's radio show, I did find his written compilation Lake Wobegon Days to be amusing. I guess the tagline of the fictional town will have to be changed: Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the children are above average, and all the men are creeps.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Can't Even Snark About This

Via Tengrain, we have this Ed Krassenstein Twitter feed about the multi-year campaign by Russian propagandists to get Trump elected President of the United States. If even a quarter of this is true, it's a terrifying glimpse at a major Russian victory in a re-ignited Cold War.

It's odd, though, to think that the country has been hijacked. I worked a double overnight shift, and even though I should be in freakout mode, my quotidian existence is really quite lovely. At dawn, I walked the site, and the autumn leaves were glorious and a small flock of wild turkeys were trooping along. I briefly played cat-and-mouse with them, to their dismay and my amusement. The world is going to hell, but MY world isn't really reflecting it... at least not yet.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Trump's Pick to Head NASA?

It has been noted that Trump's administration is a kakocracy- a government of the absolute worst people in this nation of ours. In this vein, I think I've found the perfect individual to head Trump's NASA:

"Mad" Mike Hughes, limousine driver and self-proclaimed flat-Earther, announced that he had to delay his plan to launch himself 1,800 feet high in a rocket of his own making. The launch, which he has billed as a crucial first step toward ultimately photographing our disc-world from space, had been scheduled for Saturday — before the Bureau of Land Management got wind of the plan and barred him from using public land in Amboy, Calif.

Could there BE a more perfect Trump administration official?

"I don't believe in science," Hughes told the AP earlier this month. "I know about aerodynamics and fluid dynamics and how things move through the air, about the certain size of rocket nozzles, and thrust. But that's not science, that's just a formula. There's no difference between science and science fiction."

Hell, he's the perfect example of a modern Republican, though there's no evidence of him behaving as a sexual predator...

Sure, it might seem preposterous that Trump would appoint a flat-earther to head up NASA, but is that any more preposterous than appointing Mick Mulvaney to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

An Invisible Plane, Like You See in the Movies

Via America's most beloved misanthrope, we have the bizarre ramblings of a senile man about cutting-age military hardware:

The Navy, I can tell you, we're ordering ships, with the Air Force i can tell you we're ordering a lot of planes, in particular the F-35 fighter jet, which is like almost like an invisible fighter. I was asking the Air Force guys, I said, how good is this plane? They said, well, sir, you can't see it. I said but in a fight. You know, in a fight, like I watch on the movies. The fight, they're fighting. How good is this? They say, well, it wins every time because the enemy cannot see it. Even if it's right next to them, it can't see it. I said that helps. That's a good thing.

The President probably thinks that 'Wonder Woman' was a documentary:

Amidst all of the foolishness, I was struck by one of the more mundane lines in his rambling jerkemiad:

You know, in a fight, like I watch on the movies.

That's when it hit me... I knew that Trump had more than a bit of Veruca Salt in him, as well as a bit of Augustus Gloop, now I realized that he had a large portion of Mike Teavee in him as well... Trump is pretty much a composite of all of the naughty kids from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory rolled into one... I suspect he'll end up with some sort of two scoops malady. Come to think of it, I'd rather have a blueberry for a daughter than a vulgar talking yam for a president.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Fight, Oh Estrogen

Damnit, earlier this week I had a craving for aburaage pouches stuffed with mochi, not realizing that I was cucking my appetite. How was I to know that soy produces phytoestrogens that the pointy-headed boffins assure us are harmless, but some smoldering volcano of machismo who really likes cartoon frogs says are sapping men of their masculine essence? I mean, just look at this he-man:

Perhaps the best-known crusader against the dangers of phytoestrogen consumption is Mike Soynovich, the author of a book titled Gorilla Mindset to reflect (heh) his inability to pass a mirror recognition test and his small genitalia. Soynovich rails against the emasculating bean, uniting men to resist this peril:

Maintain manliness, men, soy will wreck you. If you don't believe me and a couple of anime-Nazis, just look at this video, which clearly displays the pernicious effects of soy products on the male physique:

Now, what guy would want to be a Soy Boy like that?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Here's wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers. I hope that you are enjoying your holiday. I have a lot to be thankful for- I'm doing okay, which is more than a lot of people can say at this time. I've been working the holiday, but that entails being onsite in a beautiful location, enjoying a quiet night. I am 'essential personnel', my department is on a seven day schedule, and we work overnights, I knew going in that working weekends and holidays was in the cards.

I really find it offensive, though, that retail outfits are making their employees work on Thanksgiving night- and I have contempt for people who would buy into this exploitative system by rewarding such stores with their patronage. It's one thing to have gas stations and medical centers open on Thanksgiving, but non-essential businesses shouldn't be treating people this way.

I'm thankful that I'm not working in a big box store.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Belated Secret Science Club Post-Lecture Recap: Champions of Ilusion

Sorry about the lecture recap delay, yesterday I had to attend my annual state-mandated training for the job, and then went out for a couple of beers. On Monday, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House, in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, for this month's Secret Science Club lecture, featuring Dr Susana Martinez-Conde and Dr Stephen Macknik, both of Brooklyn's own SUNY Downstate Medical Center. The good doctors form a neurology power couple, the masterminds behind the Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Monday's lecture was a showcase for the gorgeous illusions that were sent into the contest, and dovetailed with the couple's new book, Champions of Illusion, which is a gorgeous mind-blower of a tome.

The good doctors handled the lecture in tag-team style, riffing off of each other and pausing to display videos and static images of the illusions submitted to their annual contest. The contest was formulated to provide information about the neuromechanics of perception, while remaining fun for the layperson- one does not need neurological training to appreciate illusions. The illusions submitted to the contest were rated on their intellectual, aesthetic, and 'spectacularity' appeal.

Dr Martinez-Conde began the lecture with a brief discussion of the infamous color-changing dress, accompanied by an image of the dress illuminated in light of two colors. As a personal aside, I figured out the controversy by comparing night Ginger with day Ginger.

The first illusion presented by the good doctors was Kokichi Sugihara's 'ambiguous cylinder' illusion:

The physical objects are ambiguous square/circle hybrids, and the use of a mirror activates this ambiguity as the objects are moved. Dr Martinez-Conde described this illusion as 'smoke and mirrors', or in this case, light and mirrors.

The next illusion presented to the crowd was the dynamic Ebbinghaus illusion:

Our perception of illusions can help neurologists 'dissect' how we see objects. The next illusion presented by Drs Martinez-Conde and Macknik was Anthony Norcia's Coffer Illusion:

The audience was tasked with counting the circles in the image, which tend not to be immediately apparent.

The next illusion present to the audience was Victoria Skye's beautiful variation on the classic café wall illusion:

In this instance, the shading is a crucial element in the illusion.

The next illusion presented was the chesspiece illusion, in which identical images of chess pieces were made to look dissimilar using the darkness of the background against which they appeared:

The observer's brain determines whether a piece is white or black, in the real world, everything is ambiguous. Our brains normalize things, which has evolutionary significance, such as a parent's ability to recognize a child both inside and outside of the cave.

We were then shown the Leaning Tower Illusion, in which two parallel images of the Leaning Tower of Pisa were perceived as diverging:

While actually parallel, the mind interprets them as diverging because, as parallel objects recede into the distance, they are perceived as converging:

A similar illusion was entered into the 2014 contest by Kimberley Orsten and James Pomerantz:

My favorite illusion of the night was Kochiki Sugihara's 'uphill rolling' structure:

This illusion exploits the brain's desire for a sensible rectilinear shape- our perception 'defies gravity' in order to make sense of an ambiguous structure.

The next illusion was an attention illusion- instructed to pay attention to changing dots, observers tend to stop seeing change in individual objects when the objects move:

The brain gives primacy to perception of the motion, which is more important from a survival standpoint than the color changes.

Dr Martinez-Conde likened illusions to 'stories that the brain tells us'. Illusions allow us to tell stories about neuroscience. The challenge in talking about neuroscience is how to engage the audience. She invoked E.M. Forster's Aspects of the Novel- writers have thought deeply about narrative, with there being a difference between story and plot. Foster contrasts two sentences- the first is 'The king died and the queen died', a story, which makes a time connection between two events. The second sentence- 'the king died and the queen died of grief', a plot, makes a connection of causality as well as time. Plots engage audiences- Dr Lawrence Krauss remarked on the muted excitement when the discovery of gravitational waves was made public, quipping that the public is interested in science when it results in faster cars or better toasters. Scientific discoveries that affect the public create emotional responses- people have strong reactions to cloning, the discovery of hobbits, or the demotion of Pluto.

Science is as its best when it engages our sense of wonder- where did we come from and how did we get here? Illusions provide a sense of magic, a sense of wonder. She showed a video of a broken-and-restored thread act in which the stage magician spun a poignant tale of a difficult relationship "you are intellectually dull and your cooking is mundane", effectively distracting the audience from the slight of hand. She then showed the same video of prestidigitation without the narrative, removing the emotions which accompany the illusion, which requires misdirection.

The lecture was followed by a Q&A session- one bastard in the audience asked about the perception of illusions by non-human species. Animals are subject to illusion, many organisms employ camouflage, mimicry, and other forms of deception to trick each other in various ways. Illusions have value, evolutionarily. Another question elicited the response that the brain fills in gaps- the brain makes up more than it takes in, in some cases, there are spectacular cases of discrepancy. Previous generations of scientists believed that illusions were cases in which the brain 'got it wrong'. Now, the focus has shifted to how illusions may help us- if illusions had no adaptive use, we would have evolved out of them long ago. Another question involved tactile and auditory illusions, which led to a brief discussion of the disappearing hand illusion:

A question about Dr Kokichi Sugihara's physical objects led to a fascinating digression about Dr Sugihara's initial desire to program 'impossible' object plans into a design program, then discovering that, not subject to human perception, the program would render workable designs for objects deemed impossible within the limits of human preconceptions. Regarding the subjectivity of perception, Dr Martinez-Conde joked that objects are honest, the brain determines what is perceived. Asked to picture one's mother's face, a subject is able to do so even if she is not present. Perception often involves 'filling in details'. There are conditions which affect one's perception of illusion- certain individuals on the autism spectrum are difficult for stage magicians to misdirect, certain people have brain damage which removes the ability to perceive motion, certain illusions are more difficult to perceive as a subject ages.

Once again, the Secret Science Club delivered a fantastic lecture, one accompanied by a variety of mind-bending illusions. Drs Martinez-Conde and Macknik entertained and enthralled as well as informed us. Kudos to the good doctors, Dorian and Margaret, and the staff of the beautiful Bell House for another fine Secret Science Club event. Here's a nice video featuring my favorite neuroscience/magic power couple:

Pour yourself a nice beverage and soak in that science... and consider picking up Champions of Illusion, which is a spectacularly pretty book.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Brooklyn Bound, Repeat Secret Science Club Lecturer

I'm heading down to Brooklyn this evening for tonight's Secret Science Club lecture, featuring the return of Dr Susana Martinez-Conde of SUNY Downstate. Two years ago, Dr Martinez-Conde gave a great lecture about perception which featured a lot of really great optical illusions.

I'm running out the door, so how about a video for my favorite song by Joe Walsh, but not the asshole Joe Walsh:

Lately, it seems like we've all been living a life of illusion. Try as I might to pierce the Veil of Maya, I still see a hairy, anthropomorphic pumpkin in the White House.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Responding on the Local Level

It's been two months since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and the response by the federal government has been a disaster, a farrago of incompetence and outright kleptocracy. Thousands of marchers hit the streets of Washington D.C. today to call attention to the situation in Puerto Rico, and the poor response to it.

The real response to the ongoing crisis is coming from local municipalities- shortly after the hurricane, the Fire Department of New York rallied to collect material and funds for the relief efforts. Last week, I made a donation to the police department of the Town of Greenburgh, north of my beloved Yonkers, to help send a team of first responders to the island. The New York Metropolitan Area is home to a large Puerto Rican community, the members of which form a large portion of our civil servants, our first responders, the people who keep things running. New York, along with Florida (also home to a large Puerto Rican community), is stepping up to get the power running on the island after the corrupt cronies were sent packing.

I believe in competent governance, the pooling of talent and funds to ensure that the roads are maintained, the garbage collected, and, yes, disasters are responded to with alacrity, compassion, and know-how. The worst bill of goods ever sold to the population of the U.S. was Reagan's assertion that government is the problem. If you are a member of a political party that runs on this premise, you have no business being in government, because you will seek to prove it. The GOP has devolved since Reagan, to the extent that we have a bunch of kleptocrats, and kakocrats, running the country. Thankfully, there are still localities which function, and can act to prop up places, like Puerto Rico, that have been the victims of this dysfunctional government. I'm thankful I live in one of these localities.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Senseis Nerding Out

This morning, as is usual for me this time of year, I went down to Manhattan for my volunteer gig, teaching children's judo classes. The latest addition to our roster of senseis is a women's national champion judoka who is all of twenty-two years old. Like most judoka I have met, she is tough as nails but nice as can be- there is something magical about the sport, it involves combat with compassion. When an athlete throws an opponent, there is an emphasis on proper form so the thrown individual's safety is fostered. A few years back, when asked what he thought of MMA, one of my senseis thought for a minute, then answered, "It lacks warmth."

After we taught four kids' classes, we were hanging around the dojo and I started talking with our young champion about her field of study in college, and she mentioned that she studied ecology, with an emphasis on botanical systems. The conversation soon turned to the topic of slime molds, and she started rhapsodizing about these amazing, protean eukaryotes. She recounted how she convinced a professor, a fungi specialist, to order a slime mold for her. I had to ask, "Oooh, was it from Carolina Biological Supply?" Needless to say, we went down the nerdery rabbit hole, and the two of us were regaling Sensei Big Al about the wonders of slime molds, and our new sensei showed us gorgeous pictures of the slime mold colony that she had fostered, and we discussed the 'brainless intelligence' of these organisms. This sort of 'intelligence' in food location can mimic the highways of a country:

I'm pretty sure one of those slime trails is Route Nationale 7. When Sensei Frenchie's wife came to the dojo after our classes, we subjected her to this onslaught of nerding out. Slime molds just aren't popular enough, and we were in evangelical mode.

Me being me, I mentioned the Secret Science Club and suggested that I introduce sensei to mon bon ami Simon Garnier of the NJIT Swarm Lab- he's totally down with slime mold fandom. I envision a trail of New York nerdery to rival a slime mold's peregrinations across a culture medium.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Decrying the Over-Commercialization of the War on Christmas

There was a time when the War on Christmas didn't start until after Thanksgiving, and the War on Christmas decorations didn't go up until December. That's all changed now, via Tengrain, the good folks at Right Wing Watch have reported repulsive grifter Jim Bakker's early start on the War on Christmas:

Jim is complaining that he can't buy Jesus-themed merchandise at Walmart, but he's hawking the stuff himself... this is like Pepsico complaining that the Coca-Cola Company of America doesn't sell their products at Taco Bell. I think the War on Christmas has become over-commercialized, but the entire evangelical movement is one huge commercial enterprise.

POSTSCRIPT: I have become addicted to Vic Berger's videos... he's the Werner Herzog of satire, making hilarious-yet-terrifying edits of right-wing wackos and fundamentalist con artists. His use of music, sound effects, and tempo manipulation is brilliant, each video is a surreal mélange of horror and comedy. His YouTube channel is a time-sink, you've been warned!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Et Tu, Al?

This one genuinely hurts... in the general torrent of sexual harassment accusations and revelations, Al Franken has been accused of non-consensual kissing and groping. I have long admired Franken for his outspoken support of liberal values and causes, and his progressive political career. To hear that he has been a creeper and an abuser is disheartening. I thought he was better than that. Looking at the photo of him creeping on Leeann Tweeden is infuriating... even if he wasn't actually touching her, this sort of smirking attempt at 'humor' makes light of sexual aggression.

I'm not the only one who's pissed off... Of course, the regressive Right will try to draw false equivalences between Franken and serial-pedophile Roy Moore. I also have a feeling that Bill O'Reilly, who has long hated Franken, will try to use this scandal to leverage a return to the airwaves.

Al fucked up, bigly, and this is a fuckup which will reverberate throughout the public discourse.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

This Is the Best News You're getting All Week

It's been a busy day, so I am going to post a video for my current earworm, a viciously funny number from Brooklyn's electronic superstars LCD Soundsystem. I was first drawn to the single 'Tonite' by its retro-electronica sound, but damn, the lyrics are topical and trenchant:

This was the verse that hit me when I first heard the song:

And you're too sharp to be used
Or you're too shocked from being used
By these bullying children of the fabulous
Raffling off limited edition shoes

Sound familiar to you?

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Hero America Deserves

From America's Heartland, a folk hero arises... in a downmarket echo of Rand Paul's bizarre, violent altercation with a neighbor, an Oklahoma man decided to challenge a former neighbor to a knife fight. Already, we are in Borgesian territory, El Mediooeste rather than El Sur. As if that weren't fantastic enough, our protagonist fashioned a makeshift haramaki out of pornographic magazines. There's a sort of old-fashioned quainterie about the whole affair, and a hearkening back to the ancient Far East. As far as I am concerned, Donald Gene Gaither is the hero that America now deserves, the one Donald who best represents our nation.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Closing for the Winter

Today, it felt really good to lock up our two auxiliary parking lots for the next six months... it was our last day of regular tours, so the winter gets really quiet. We will still have school groups visiting for the next month, but the weekends will be peaceful. Our resident mouser, Ginger, must have sensed the pending change in the rhythm of the place- yesterday, she parked herself in the site's Visitors' Center for a few hours, in order to mooch scraps from lunches, and to receive the adulation of visitors for one last weekend. When she tired of attention, she would curl up in the corner of the 'information' desk in the building:

It's a nice refuge from the adoring throngs, and she now has a whole winter ahead of her to rekindle her enthusiasm for the crowd... as do I, as do I.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Work Winding Down

Today has been a chill prelude to winter, with a biting wind adding to the low temperature. This is the last weekend that our sites are open to tourists, one final coda before we go on winter break. Normally, I would turn off the valve for our exterior drinking fountain, but the dropping mercury forced me to do so as soon as I arrived at work this afternoon. When Sunday evening rolls around, I will lock the auxiliary parking lots for the last time until April. Things get really quiet after the madness that is October.

Today has marked the beginning of the annual 'goodbyes' to the seasonal staff, exhortations to have enjoyable holidays and to get some rest in the off-season. I'm one of the elect, the full-time, year-rounders. I think I'm lucky, they think they are lucky- I can deal with the cold, with darkness, with discomfort... as much as I enjoy company, I actually value the coming months of peace and quiet.

Today is also the first really cold night of autumn, so a lot of my two-legged co-workers have been asking about Ginger's ability to cope with the cold. For the record, Ginger has a cozy cat-cave, a heat lamp, and a heated no-freeze bowl in her lair. For a working cat, she has a pretty cushy gig. For a working cat, I have a pretty cushy gig as well... now, let me put on a couple of more layers of clothing and head outside to inspect the premises.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

There's a Reason He Wants Ten Commandments Monuments

Scratch a fundamentalist, find a pervert- it seems that religious right hero Roy Moore has a history of molesting or attempting to molest underage girls. I guess there's nothing in the Ten Commandments specifically against diddling 14 year-olds, which is one reason we don't base our legal system on them, despite the efforts of craw-thumpers like Moore.

Predictably, the religious right doesn't give a hoot about Moore's depredations, even using scripture to justify them in some cases.

For a bunch of people who are obsessed with fake conspiracy theories involving pedophilia, these people sure do seem to tolerate the real thing.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Women Are the Wave

One my my favorite signs from last January's Women's March read "Women Are the Wall". It was a declaration that women stood as a bulwark against the depredations and depravities of the new Trump regime. Last night, with the Democratic electoral victories in New Jersey and Virginia, women were the wave, rising up against the racist, sexist, homophobic and religiously bigoted GOP candidates.

The elections of women, people of color, and LGBTQ candidates, all first-timers, was remarkable. Many of these candidates had been inspired by the Women's March, and trained during the post-march organization period. Women were the wall, now women are the wave. Let's hope that the momentum of the movement will build in the coming year, so the wave can wash away all of the flotsam in Congress.

This post was hastily composed before I head out to work- I will clean it up and post links at a quiet moment.

UPDATE: There were a lot of ugly campaigns this election season, with appeals to racism, transphobia, sexism, and religious bigotry... all of which failed. 2018 is shaping up to be quite the year, as long as people remain angry, and organized.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Today being election day, I had to report to work by 5AM in order to prepare my workplace, a polling site, for the 5:30 influx of poll workers and the 6AM influx of voters. It's a long day, but I know the poll workers (a nice bunch of people) and many of the voters. After work, I have to rush home to Yonkers to vote.

The big issue here in New York State is a plebescite on whether or not to have a constitutional convention. I am definitely voting NO on this one, because there is too much dark money involved in politics, and too much manipulation of political processes by hostile foreign powers. New York is a bastion of liberal, progressive values, it's too damn risky to give weirdo right-wing creeps like the Mercer family a shot at undoing a century and a half of progress in this, one of the most liveable, liberal states in the Union.

Monday, November 6, 2017


I'm not a wealthy person, but I'm doing okay... that being said, I try to cultivate a certain form of sophistication appropriate for an East Coast Elite type: I am well-read and well-fed, having an extensive personal library and an experience of diverse cuisines. Lately, I have been craving a nabemono, having learned how to make a passable one from my Tokyo-born sister-in-law (my brother Sweetums' wife), but have so far settled for a boil-up of chicken thighs, savoy cabbage, tofu, and mochi finished off with some rice noodles since I haven't been able to shop for aburaage, atsuage, and shirataki lately. Yeah, I don't have a lot of money, but what I have I can spend so that I seem to punch above my weight lifestyle-wise.

After this long-winded introduction, I have to note that our president, despite his wealth and pose of class, is an inaka mono, despite having grown up in the diverse borough of Queens, NY. The guy, on a state dinner with the Prime Minister of Japan, had a hamburger for lunch. Face, palm, I believe you've met... Trump is the quintessential clueless tourist, the guy who loudly orders steak tartare and complains even more loudly that it hasn't been cooked. He's in a nation known for its refined cuisine, and he orders a hamburger? It could have been worse, though, the burger was made of American beef, so at least Trump didn't blasphemously insist on a well-done burger made of Wagyu beef. Sou desu ne?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Honor System for the Dishonorably Discharged

Another day in 'Murka, another mass shooting. This time, the shooter was a guy who was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force, though CNN reporter Dianne Gallagher indicated that he was able to purchase a firearm even though his dishonorable discharge should have prevented him from doing so:

Official says Kelley checked box to indicate he didn’t have any disqualifying criminal history on background paperwork

He checked a box on a form... just fucking great. He was dishonorably discharged, but his gun purchase was done on the honor system?

UPDATE: Predictably, the shooter's court-martial was for domestic violence, yet another case of the link between domestic violence and domestic terrorism.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

What if They Scheduled an Insurrection and Nobody Came?

It's been weird reading up on the rightie conspiracy theory that there would be an 'Antifa Revolution' today, largely promulgated by Youtube lunatics. The craziest of the lunatics are convinced that 'Antifa' will cripple the United States with an Electromagnetic Pulse... a particularly popular topic among conspiracy loons.

Predictably, 'news' of an upcoming insurgency against Vulgarmort brought out the bloodlust among the Chairborne Rangers, as J.J. McNabb chronicles. These people really love their violent fantasies of the streets running red with blood, their hate-boner dreams of living out a Sylvester Stallone movie. I guess if the only tool you have is a gun, every problem looks like a target, though the vast majority of these people are all bark, no fight.

The response among the snarky left-of-center crowd has been hilarious, with plans for a post-revolution regime being bandied about. My wish is that Tweety Amin gets exiled to Saudi Arabia so he can spend more time with his orb.

In reality, the Right will spin this fake insurgency as a victory, a hard-fought skirmish won by internet tough guy talk rather than a trumped-up hoax that they all fell for.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Catching up on Other People's Halloween

I just started catching up on the news, and I found an image of the White House Halloween party:

What a costume! It depicts a vicious predator with a tiny brain and absurdly small fore-claws... oh, and there's someone dressed as a Tyrannosaur as well.

In other hilarious Halloween news, local artist and academic Amy Finkel left a Mueller jack o'lantern in front of Paul Manafort's Brooklyn home. Well played, professor.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Pondering the Victims

Tuesday was one of those surreal days- I was swamped with work, but was aware that a terrorist attack had been perpetrated in Lower Manhattan. After the initial reports, I switched the car radio to a music station for the ride to work because I really don't like to be inundated with speculation, misinformation, and malinformation. Better to wait until the basic facts are known, and catch up with the news later.

The real horror, as opposed to the terror, of terrorist attacks on soft targets is that the victims are usually people who are just out minding their business, going to work, or having a good time at a concert or a festival. In this latest attack, I am particularly saddened by the deaths of the five Argentine high school friends who had come to NYC with other classmates for a class reunion. Two local men and a Belgian woman were also killed, a testament to the international appeal of my beloved New York City (second only to the City of Y______ in my heart).

In contrast, the perpetrator was a violent fuckup who became radicalized- thankfully, he was too incompetent to arm himself with more than a paintball gun and a pellet gun for his post-motorized rampage stand. Thankfully, he was also too stupid to begin his rampage at night, when the streets are full of hundreds of thousands of Halloween revelers.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Finally Able to Surface

October is now behind me, and I didn't have to put anyone through a wall. It's been quite the slog, but it's nice to be able to earn some overtime pay... the next couple of weeks will also involve extra hours because we need somebody on site while the installations of the fundraisers are removed. At least I don't have to deal with the public much in the coming weeks. It's not as if I don't like people, but having crowds of them to deal with gets to be old after a couple of weeks. In one particularly odious case, the high-pressure tank in our handicapped-accessible toilet was put out of order (somehow, a metal bar gets pulled out of alignment at times, and has to be pulled into place)... I don't know why people don't approach any employees with problems like this, and throwing more toilet paper in the bowl doesn't fucking help.

One of the hallmarks of the Fall fundraisers is the use of contractors to assist the in-house staff. Some of the temporary workers have been impossible to deal with- in particular, one woman was found to have slipped twenties in among the singles in a cash register she was working, and she got into an argument with our long-time concession operator- she was not invited to return. Another winner had the temerity to ask one of our shop managers where the money from retail sales was kept, and was bounced. Of course, we also had plenty of great temps, including one Yonkers native who was extremely helpful to our retail staff and a genuinely nice fellow. If I had pull in the retail division, I would recommend that they hire him.

Our parking attendants for hire have been uniformly excellent. While a good portion of them are repeat contractors, there were plenty of new faces. Most of these folks are young African-American and Latino guys, with an admixture of a few women. Quite a few of them are Yonkers residents, my kind of people. One of the managers was a new hire, an older guy who had a good way with the younger employees... by the end of the month, I felt as if I'd known him for years. The company they work for is growing in the region, gaining parking contracts for local train stations, medical centers, and shopping malls. They are earning the business, because their employees are polite and helpful, while being no-nonsense. Since our organization contracted with this company, they have become indispensable to the success of our events. I always tell them that they are welcome to stop by any time for a visit.

As always, October was a slog, but things get real quiet real soon. The slog pretty much pays my salary, as the fundraisers contribute mightily to our operating costs. I have long described my job as 'really cushy, except when it's not', and it's the 'not' days which make the cushy part possible.