Trump Could Withdraw From Bird Treaty

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A little over 100 years ago, the U.S. and Canada signed the Migratory Bird Treaty to protect birds. The treaty limits the number of months hunters can shoot migratory game birds. Trump’s secretary of interior Ryan Zinke has recently moved to expand access to game hunting on public lands. It would not surprise me if Trump were to withdraw from the treaty citing the threat of avian flu, or some other trumped up charge against the birds. Volunteer field reporters from Ribbie’s faux political desk familiar with Trump’s golf outings have reported that Trump regularly feuds with Canadian geese who leave excessive droppings on his manicured greens and the sandpipers that dig around in the bunkers.

There has also been some unconfirmed chatter that Trump wants to require migratory game birds, including those close to extinction, to pay a border crossing tax based on wingspan. Naturally, the cranes are up in arms and the albatross have argued that it creates an undue burden. A group of rough-legged hawks have already begun to organize a migratory bird union, but are having trouble with the warblers who just want to be left alone, and the mockingbirds who won’t take anything seriously.

File under: real fake news, broken news, snark, satire, humor or humour if you like

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Heavy Metal Dogs

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I ran across a disturbing article that got me thinking about food safety.  Trump’s plan to gut most of the regulatory agencies including the FDA puts corporate profits ahead of the interests of the people.  Fortunately, one hot dog maker recalled something like 200,000 pounds of franks after alert consumers found metal in some of the weenies.  There is no report on which metals were found, whether heavy, precious or rare earth elements, but I can assure this, metal won’t easily melt when boiled, broiled or grilled.  It would not have been the intent of the makers of Nathan’s Hot Dogs to provide the consumer a bit of crunch or a metallic aftertaste.  But what would stop an unregulated company from using whatever meat could be procured cheaply, say, horse, dog, chipmunk, squirrel, possum, house sparrow, cat, or rat? For that matter, might we one day find recycled cell phone parts in our hot dogs in the form of rare earth metals that make the meat look fresher and last longer sporting a half-life shelf life of nearly a thousand years? Imagine a heavy metal dog with an expiration date of 2112 guaranteed to produce noble gases.

Top 10 Reasons For Comey Firing

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Rod Rosenstein must be wondering how he got on the sinking ship, as did both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.  Being forced to write a memo to justify Comey’s firing would not have been a pleasurable task for the career bureaucrat, that is unless he had chosen to have some fun with it.  And if he had chosen the later, he might have offered this top 10 list of the best reasons to can Comey.

10) As a Chemistry major, Comey believes in Science.

9) He’s friendly with former Univ. of Chicago classmate Dem. Senator Amy Klobuchar.

8) He promised to be truthful rather than loyal.

7) But her emails!

6) Comey called you “crazy” and “outside the realm of normal”; he may not even like steak well-done with ketchup – talk about crazy!

5) He likely wire tapped all the microwave ovens in the White House.

4) He’s said to be the most promising athlete to come out of the Yonkers/Queens area. But as you know Mr. President, YOU are the best baseball player ever to come out of New York.

3) No longer a registered Republican, he could be your chief presidential rival in 2020.

2) At 6’8″, Comey grandstands everyday.

And the NUMBER ONE reason to fire Director Comey:  He asked for a second scoop of vanilla ice-cream at your dinner meeting!

Top 10 Plurals for Goldman Sachs

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Rachel Maddow issued a challenge for viewers to come up with an appropriate plural designation when speaking of Trump’s Goldman Sachs (GS) hires.  You know, like a group of Sachs or a bag of Goldman Sachs or a school of Sachs and so on.  You will recall that Trump has named, hired, or appointed something like 6 from the Wall Street firm.  Interestingly, and some would say hypocritically so, he brutally criticized Hillary Clinton for being “totally controlled by Goldman Sachs.” Well, it looks like he was secretly winking at her when saying this because it appears that it is he, not she who will be controlled by Goldman Sachs.  So how do we refer to a group of GS Trump advisers? Here is my list of top ten possibilities with brief explanations:

  1. A coalition of GS, as in a coalition of cheetah, or perhaps even more appropriate, a coalition of GS Cheetos.
  2. A tribe of GS, as in a tribe of goats.  Maybe they will say things Trump doesn’t like and in doing so get his goat.
  3. A bloat of GS, as in a bloat of hippos. Hippos, as one knows, are potentially dangerous to people and so too might a bloat of GS be if financial regulations are relaxed.
  4. A romp of GS, as in a romp of otters who are slick to the touch and like to playfully romp around in rough waters. Let’s just hope the romp of GS advisers doesn’t romp around with our investments.
  5. A wake of GS, as in a wake of buzzards. Now, this sounds bleak and terrifying, to be honest.
  6. A wreck of GS, as in a wreck of seabirds is not much better. An unregulated Wall Street could wreck the economy again and your retirement account along with it.
  7. A murmuration of GS, as in a murmuration of starlings. Can’t you see them all flying in formation? What a spectacle it would be.
  8. A descent of GS, like a descent of woodpeckers pecking away at your life savings until there is nothing left.
  9. A plague of GS, like a plague of insects I think speaks for itself.
  10. A scourge of GS like a scourge of blood sucking mosquitoes – not a pretty image.

In all fairness, I am not against Goldman Sachs or any other investment firm or big bank as long as they play by the rules and behave responsibly.  It just seems so hypocritical for Trump to have derided Clinton for her connections to Wall Street when it is clear that his administration is going to BE Wall Street.  Well, he did say he was going to buld a wall, I just didn’t expect it to be made of Goldman Sachs.

Mainstream Moisturizers and Tumors

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Breaking news which I saw on my Facebook feed, which actually broke back in 2008: Moisturizers cause cancer in mice.  Yes, the moisturizers we all know and presumably trust, the mainstream brands that keep us from shriveling up like raisins and moulting, do not appear to offer mice any health benefits. Scientists slathered the rodents with copious amounts of Eucerin and Vanicream daily for 17 weeks with disastrous results.  These poor mice developed 69% more tumors than mice not “hydrated” with the moisturizers.  There are three aspects to the study, that were glossed over by the outraged anti-moisturizer activists who published a Portlandia type article in some off the grid journal devoted to convincing readers that we modern day humans are doomed.  One, unlike humans, mice don’t need moisturizers.  Though I am not a scientist and do not claim to have any knowledge of science except that climate change and evolution are real, common sense would dictate that rodents produce natural skin oils that render creams redundant.  Two, Eucerin and the like are not made for mice.  Three, the mice that developed tumors were already at risk for cancers because the researchers had been subjecting them to high amounts of ultraviolet rays, if I understood the study correctly – the mice subjects were known as UVB-pretreated high-risk mice.

I am not defending the petroleum industry, but I am suggesting that extrapolating results of tests on mice to humans is dubious. The amount of lotion those suffering rodents must have received each day would probably have been the human equivalent to 32 ounces rubbed all over our bodies daily, head to toe, over a lifetime. You’d likely drown in the stuff before you developed a tumor, and even if you were a good swimmer, you’d probably end up dying of cancer eventually anyway, as many of us unfortunately will.  The fact remains, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States and no doubt the leading cause of death among laboratory rats. A little dab of Eucerin or Neutrogena is not likely to do us in. And because I secretly read this off the grid journal and have drawn my own conclusions,  I believe that what we should be more worried about are pesticides, GMOs, bourbon because its made with GMO corn, breakfast cereal, homogenized milk, preservatives, meat of any kind, soda, flouride in toothpaste and drinking water, energy drinks, mercury from light bulbs (and all that mercury us older folks played with when the family thermometer broke), white bread, the sun, sunscreen, air pollution, climate change, bedding material, rugs, mosquitoes, ticks, rabid raccoons, asbestos, lead paint, air freshner, laminate floors, bug spray, bug propellant, pesticides, nuclear waste, bottled water and so on.  As they say in New Hampshire, “Live Free and Die anyway or something like that.

Trump and the parties pathways to victory

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I know why all the GOP candidates didn’t take on Trump in the first GOP debate – they’re afraid of him.  Afraid he’d turn the audience against them; afraid he might sue them if they crossed him; and afraid that he’ll run as a third party candidate.  And he just might if enough of the field were to attack him at some point.  Their strategy was to go easy on Trump and not goad him into slinging zingers, like the one he slang on Rand Paul who tried to call him out early on.

Almost everyone has written the Donald off as a serious candidate, and possibly even conservatives who until the debate, liked what they heard, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.  He might continue to surprise and could even win the nomination.  And if he did, and the GOP united in support of him, which seems unlikely, but if they did, he would give Hillary Clinton a good fight, though she would win with ease.

In my opinion, Trump would be the least electable of the lot, alongside Gov. Rick Perry, Senator Lindsay Graham whose candidacy makes me think of House of Cards, Gov. Jindal who had the awkward family reveal, and Gov. Huckabee whose incendiary rhetoric is both dangerous and pitiful. The most electable candidates and the ones Democrats like me should fear the most are Gov. Jeb Bush, Senator Marco Rubio, Gov. Rick Kasich and Gov. Scott Walker.  The union busting Walker may have some appeal outside the Midwest where people tend to hate teachers and the unions who protect them. Marcus Rubio may gain the backing of several billionaires in the coming months and whip the tea party into a frenzy with his memorized talking points.  Rick Kasich, who I first thought was the lead vocalist for the band the Cars, appears to be a moderate who could draw support in others regions, not the South, and take some votes from Jeb Bush.  And of course if Jeb Bush wakes up and finds a little fire in his belly, he could emerge as the one to beat.  But none of the candidates did themselves much of a favor in the debates.  They sounded scripted, timid and uninspiring.

The question is, will the Republican base turn out to vote for Rubio? If Bush were nominated, would the base support him or throw their support to Trump, the spoiler.  Bush and Rubio are Clinton’s biggest threats.  Which is why her best pathway to victory is for Trump to run as an Independent if not nominated by the GOP.  And though he’d take some of her votes, he’d take more away from the GOP as disaffected right wingers – who don’t believe in science, regulations, the separation of church and state and who generally don’t like government and prefer it be run as a business, because we all know that corporations are people – clamor to register their angst. But this scenario could also have the effect of turning out both bases of the two parties.  The GOP’s best pathway to victory, then, will be to continue to push voter suppression laws, because if the elderly, students, Blacks and Latinos can’t vote, many of whom are registered Democrats, it’s all over for the former first lady, Senator and Secretary of State. It is.

How Smart are Smartwatches?

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Photo by Luekk who has no idea I am using it and therefore cannot be said to endorse my blog post.

Pebble and Apple are coming out with new smartwatches in March and April of 2015 respectively.  I’m not rushing out to buy one.  The Pebble will run you about $200 U.S. and the Apple around $350.  Being more expensive is part of the Apple business model.  The idea is to trick people into thinking the shiny new gadget is of the highest quality.  But what’s up with a smartwatch anyway, and who needs one? I probably would need one if I were 20, just like I needed the swatchwatch when I was 21 or so back in the summer of 1984.  I bought one in Switzerland, of all places, a plastic Suisse Swatch, back before they were a big deal in the States.  Mine was black if I recall and I paid around $26 bucks for it (I think) which would have been something in the order of 65 Swiss Francs in 1984.  The thing didn’t last long.  It took a beating and did not keep ticking.

Today, I don’t really need a smartwatch, I already have one – it’s called a Timex and for $29.99 U.S., it keeps pretty accurate time and has a battery life of about 2 years as opposed to the Pebble Smartwatch with a battery life of about 7 hours.  How smart is that?  The thing can’t even tell time for half a day.  Now my Timex doesn’t have very many apps, but it does have a second hand and gives me the date too.  Impressive, I know.  And it’s reasonably stylish. What more can you ask of a watch?

Apparently, though, some are not satisfied with an ordinary wrist watch, and instead want to wear a mini smartphone or tablet.  But for what?  You’d have to squint to watch a video and you’d need a magnifying glass to play Candy Crush.  I guess you could get the thing to read you your news feed and announce what notifications have come through.  If these smartwatches have GPS, I suppose you would have to drive with one hand on the wheel and your opposite wrist in front of you to see where you’re going.  You could have it talk to you, but with such a tiny speaker, as it surely must have, you’d have to put your wrist up to your ear.  The Pebble alternative to the Apple might have the voice of the Trivago guy giving you directions.  Talk about a distraction.  If the things have cameras, you’d look like you were trying to defend yourself from a punch to the face or shield your eyes from solar glare when taking a picture.

I really don’t know what all the functionalities are or will be on these so called smartwatches, but I would imagine they’d also double as USB drives;  flashwatches, so to speak. Sure don’t want to plug it into one of the computers at work or school or wherever you might be and absentmindedly walk away.  Later you’d be like, “crap I left my watch in the computer…I have everything on it…” That wouldn’t be very smart.  You’d be better off with a Timex.  Your welcome.

6 Songs of My Life

My friend Pampi over at Third Eye Fell shared an NPR article entitled Tell Us The 6 Songs of Your Life. I thought it would be a great topic for a blog post but I realize now that it’s not such an easy assignment.  The thing is, I like and have liked all kinds of music depending on my moods at various stages in my life jazz, classical, electronica, blues, trip hop, lounge, alternative, ambient, dark industrial, punk, indie, new wave, rock, Latin, southern rock, soul, folk, show tunes (actually, not so much anymore – but I heard a lot of Broadway musicals on LPs growing up).  I’m pretty moody, I guess.  I could make a list of literally thousands of songs that mean something to me.  I once posted a list of the 21 records of my life, but I’ll not do a top 6 favorites, rather I’ll identify 6 songs that sort of defined me or described a state of mind at a particular stage in my life from childhood to midlife; I almost said from childhood to the Middle Ages.  I’m old, but still alive.  Yes, it’s all very self-indulgent, I know, but I can’t help myself. Enough with the introduction.  Here’s the list:

As a Kid:  Day by Day – from Godspell.  It came out when I was about 10 or so.  My neighbor whose father was a minister played the album for me one day when we were shooting pool.  I think at the time, their church youth group was performing the musical.  The version I link to above is not the original Broadway cast, but a modern one that I think is far superior.  Although a religious song that appealed to youth in ways that hymns could not, I connected to it more as a pop tune with a catchy melody and easy sing along lyrics.  As a kid, I pretty much lived day by day, not thinking too much about the past or future, especially during the summer.

Preteen:  That’s the Way of the World – Earth Wind and Fire.  The song came out when I was in 7th grade before I had developed much of a world view.  Things were the way they were because that’s the way of the world.  I didn’t have the tools to think critically about the world and my place in it.  I wouldn’t develop those tools until after I finished my formal schooling many years later.  As a 12 year old, I had very little agency but did have a vague notion of freedom that had to do with driving a tractor trailer for a living one day.

The Teen Years:  River Man – Nick Drake.  My dad turned me on to this obscure artist, obscure then, much better known posthumously. Drake’s music was dark, and full of raw emotion poetically crafted and delivered with total vulnerability.  The tune really speaks more to my dad’s life than mine and in some ways feels like a portal to his soul, may god rest it.  I’m linking also to a brilliant Brad Mehldau cover of the song.

College:  Phase Dance – The Pat Metheny Group.  I discovered Pat Metheny’s music looking through my sister’s boyfriend’s record collection.   He’s been my favorite artist ever since, Pat Metheny, not my sister’s x boyfriend.  I’ve had the good fortune of seeing Pat play live with his band and in other configurations many times.  The first time I saw the group play was in 1984 at the Student Union at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. I was one of about 100 people sitting near the stage in a metal folding chair.  I had a Minolta SLR and took flashless photos with a high speed Ilford black and white film.  See shot below from the concert.  The song was sort of a signature warm up tune they liked to play very early in a concert.   Phase Dance doesn’t have any lyrics, but the song is full of idea exploration.  Like the song, as a college student, I had  begun exploring various ideas and perspectives and quite a few mysterious isms as I pondered the meaning of life.

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Post CollegeNovo Amor (New Love) – Gal Costa.  In 1990, I began dating a Chilean woman I would later marry.  She spoke very little English, and I, very little Spanish.  We somehow managed to communicate together through hand gestures, Spanglish and by exchanging notes on napkins.  One of the things we had in common was a love for Brazilian music.  We both had cassette tapes and albums by Gal Costa, Chico Buarque, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso and others.  At our wedding reception, we featured a Brazilian mix tape.

Mid Life.  The Way Up – Pat Metheny Group.  Pat Metheny is the only artist that I have seen live with each member of my immediate family separately.   My wife and I saw The Way Up tour in 2004 as an anniversary present.  It is a jazz record, but organized into four parts like a symphony.  The work is a masterpiece drawing from many musical influences including the composer Steve Reich.  As  composers, the writing duo of Pat Metheny (guitar) and Lyle Mays (keyboards) are in the same league as Rogers and Hammerstein and Lennon and McCartney.   And Metheny is a national treasure.  The music from The Way Up suite awakens my creative impulses and helps keep my midlife out of crisis.

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