Saturday, August 18, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


Just when you thought things couldn't get much worse ...

Legendary R&B singer Aretha Franklin, widely respected as "The Queen of Soul," died on Thursday at the age of 76; in a direct attack against criticism of his administration by former senior officials, Donald Trump stripped former CIA director John Brennan of his security clearances, accusing him of "lying and recent conduct characterized by increasingly frenzied commentary;" in the Italian city of Genoa, at least 39 people were killed when a bridge collapsed, dumping dozens of cars 145 into a valley below; in a salacious tell-all book, former White House official Omarosa Manigault Newman accused Donald Trump of being both racist and mentally unstable, leading Trump to refer to her in a tweetstorm as a "dog" and raising questions as to exactly what her role in the Trump administration (for which she earned a salary of $179,700) had been; and a grand jury in Pennsylvania released a 900-page report which accused hundreds of priests, bishops, and other church leaders of molesting more than a thousand children over a period of decades.

If we ever needed a little humor, we need it now. How about a collection of cartoons featuring symbols ...

Such a conversion can be hard on all concerned ...


I guess math can be fun, after all ...


Murder by the numbers ...


A good pun in a cartoon can alpha lot to up the humor ratio ...


I'm not that musical one in my family, either ...


So am I ... but one has to be very careful nowadays ...


I thought I'd be more vigorous, too ...


Before alphabet soup, there was ...


A timely question ...


Well, what else is there? ...


And that's it for this week's symbolic Cartoon Saturday. I hope it helped you get over the insanity of the past week. Sorry I can't do much about what's to come.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow on Poetry Sunday. Be here.

Bilbo

Friday, August 17, 2018

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2018


Well, it's that time again ... time to skim the scum from the surface of our bubbling cesspool of ass-clownery and name our

Left Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2018


and the award goes to

Omarosa Manigault Newman


Omarosa first became known as a scheming and vindictive character in Donald Trump's "Apprentice" television series. She was later hired into a high-paying White House job by Mr Trump, from which she was unceremoniously fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly after (wait for it...) scheming and vindictive activity*. She went on to publish the latest tell-all book about the Trump administration - Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House - which led Mr Trump to his latest unpresidential tweet storm, in which he wrote

"When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!"

But this award isn't being presented to Donald Trump (who -although deserving - is no longer eligible, having received a lifetime achievement award), it's being presented to Ms Manigault for her own less-than-stellar behavior, including her flagrant violation of security regulations by taping conversations inside the White House Situation Room ... supposedly one of the most secure locations in government. 

For her contributions to the embarrassing circus that is the Trump administration, Omarosa Managault Newman is named our Left-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2018.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

* Donald Trump evidently feels there's only room for one scheming and vindictive character in the White House.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Eingebaute Vorfahrt


When I was living in Germany and learning all sorts of colloquial expressions to fill out my school-taught German, Agnes taught me the expression eingebaute Vorfahrt, which translates literally as "built-in driving priority." It's applied to expensive cars like high-end Mercedes and BMW's that often seem to roar up behind you on the autobahn, flashing their lights to demand that you get your lesser automobile out of the way so they can move on ... the drivers of such cars believe that their machines have eingebaute Vorfahrt.

I don't often have occasion to use that term here in the States (although I have used it once in a while), but I thought about it today when I read this interesting article in the Washington Post: "Are Rich People More Likely to Lie, Cheat, Steal? Science Explains the World of Manafort and Gates."

The article describes a set of experiments that tend to confirm the corrupting effects of wealth. The key takeaway is this:

"The findings build on similar research in recent years that suggests wealth and power strip people of their inhibitions, increase risk taking and feelings of entitlement and invulnerability. At the same time, power makes people less empathetic and able to see others' perspectives ... 'Wealth is basically a mechanism for power, and power has a freeing effect on people. It takes away the constraints of society and frees people to act according to their dominant desires,' said Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School, whose experiments have explored how power often propels people's actions. In some cases, those desires may be altruistic or helpful to society, so power heightens those goals and can give rise to effective philanthropists. Often, however, power leads to self-serving behaviors unrestrained by the usual concerns over rules or the consequences for others."

Yes, what you long suspected is more than likely true - the rich are different, and the dominance of wealthy and powerful people in government ought to be of some concern, because ... well ... they have a whole different set problems and concerns from yours.

They have eingebaute Vorfahrt, after all.



Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Musical Sunday


Today is the birthday (in 1950) of singer/songwriter and bandleader August Darnell, better known as "Kid Creole," the lead singer of the group "Kid Creole and the Coconuts." His hits include "My Male Curiosity" and "Endicott" (both of which have been featured in this space) and this one - "Stool Pigeon," which seems appropriate as we watch the unspooling drama of the trial of Paul Manafort ...



Ha, cha-cha-cha!

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


You just can't make this stuff up ...

The parents of First Lady Melania Trump received their US citizenship in a ceremony this week - a citizenship enabled by the "chain migration" system that Donald Trump has repeatedly and loudly denounced; Vice President Pence announced details of the administration's proposal to create a US "Space Force;" Donald Trump imposed additional tariffs on Turkey in order (among other things) to pressure that country's government to release an imprisoned American pastor; a white supremacist rally scheduled for August 12th in Washington, DC, appears to be drawing far more counterprotesters than white supremacists; and North Korea has reportedly rejected every denuclearization proposal put forward by the United States, declaring them to be "gangster-like."

This week, in honor of the policies and pronouncements of the administration, we have cartoons based on fairy tales and myths ...

As we get older, the fairy tales change ...


Unhappily ever after ...


One-upmanship at Mother Goose's tavern ...


If the (cement) shoe fits ...


All of us parents have been there ...


Even fairy tale characters have to watch their diets ...


And what's in the Girl Scout Cookies? ...


If Hansel and Gretel had had GPS ...


The sad truth ...


Poor Quasimodo, he just can't help it ...


And there you have it - another Cartoon Saturday attempt to keep your spirits up while the swamp is being restocked.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Musical Sunday checks in with Kid Creole and the Coconuts.

Bilbo

Friday, August 10, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


And away we go ...

Well, yes, if you're into watching the sky ...


I thought that was the whole point ...


I'm surprised he wasn't strangled by the apron strings ...


It's the brown-plate special ...


Poor vampires need to eat, too ...


I wonder how many people realized the mistake ...


I think this editor won't be getting a lot of dates ...


We have a lot of hysterical buildings in Washington, too: Mr Trump lives in one, and Congress works in another ...


Adding insult to injury ...


I'll bet June was one satisfied lady ...


Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday ... you need the laughs.

More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Economics as Religion


It has occurred to me that modern political economics is a lot like religion, for several reasons:

First, they both require you to take their laws and rules and pronouncements on faith, ignoring evidence to the contrary. Tax cuts will pay for themselves. Cutting taxes on the wealthy helps the poor. Deficits will disappear because the economy will continue to grow at very optimistic rates. Every other country will be happy to renegotiate trade agreements so that the United States will get a better deal at their expense.

Second, they both ask you to make sacrifices and accept pain in the present because the future will be paradise. You can see this as tariffs designed to protect certain industries result in pain for other segments of the economy ... the steel industry may be boosted a bit, but other industries are being hit hard by retaliatory tariffs, and the administration has had to come up with billions of dollars in aid to protect farmers.

Third, they both ask you to believe in miracles, such as Mexico is going to pay for that wall.

If you want to choose a miraculous system in which to believe, GOP economics and religion seem to be equally good options.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Poetry Sunday


My garden is winding down for the year, exhausted by the continuing alternations between heavy rain and blistering heat. The take so far is: three nice spaghetti squash (all of them from volunteer plants that apparently grew from seeds that came across from my compost pile); five large yellow squash; three acorn squash (two of them volunteers); and a huge number of jalapeƱo peppers. My tomato plants produced practically nothing, and I got zilch from my zucchini and cantaloupe plants. The herbs are doing much better - we're up to our earlobes in thyme, basil, dill, mint, chives, rosemary, and sage.

On that note, here's a poem by Anne Higgins about the joys of eating tomatoes from one's own garden in the August heat ...

Cherry Tomatoes 
by Anne Higgins 

Suddenly it is August again, so hot,
breathless heat.
I sit on the ground
in the garden of Carmel,
picking ripe cherry tomatoes
and eating them.
They are so ripe that the skin is split,
so warm and sweet
from the attentions of the sun,
the juice bursts in my mouth,
an ecstatic taste,
and I feel that I am in the mouth of summer,
sloshing in the saliva of August.
Hummingbirds halo me there,
in the great green silence,
and my own bursting heart
splits me with life.


Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


As if we didn't have enough to worry about ...

Directly after every one of his national defense advisors confirmed past Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election and in the upcoming midterm elections, Donald Trump shouted to a screaming rally that the whole thing was a hoax; a suspected Russian spy has been caught at the US embassy in Moscow; in China, 84-year-old activist Sun Wenguang was forced off the air by police who broke into his home in the middle of an interview with the Voice of America (VOA); former WWE wrestling superstar Glen Jacobs, professionally known as "Kane," has has been elected mayor in Knox County, Tennessee; and in Washington, the Trump administration argued that it is the responsibility of the ACLU and other advocacy groups - not the government - to reunite families separated when they were arrested crossing the border illegally.

With a nod toward the fevered conspiracy theorists who follow our Right-Cheek Ass Clown for this month, today's cartoons feature conspiracy theories ...

It's obvious, isn't it? ...


The wonderful blog Indexed by Jessica Hagy nails the sad truth about conspiracy theories ...

It's all in how you connect the dots, real or imagined ...


It works ...


Sometimes, it might be true ...


Go ahead ... prove the negative ...


Hmmm ...


Well, it's improvement of a sort ...


Build Noah's what?? ...


Nowadays, the hat clearly isn't enough ...


Go ahead ... adjust your tinfoil hat, because it won't protect you if it doesn't fit properly.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Friday, August 03, 2018

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2018


I know that I sound like a broken record* when I complain about the difficulty in selecting one "worthy" ass clown out of the thousands of candidates clamoring for attention, but it really is a drain on my brain and my patience to sift through the festering stew of ass-clownery in search of individual awardees. It's gotten to the point where I'm almost ready to rescind Donald Trump's lifetime achievement award just so I can use him as an avatar for the swirling vortex of ass-clownery that surrounds us.

But that would be too easy, and would be a dereliction of my duty to shine light on the scurrying cockroaches that infest our social, entertainment, and political lives. Therefore, I've decided to bite the proverbial bullet, pull on my protective gloves, and reach deep into the cesspool to pull out another awardee.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, I give you

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2018


QAnon
and
Its Credulous True Believers



At a time when people who should know better are ready to believe anything, no matter how wild or bizarre or utterly lacking in proof, the online ultimate conspiracy theorist known as "QAnon" stands head and shoulders above the rest - exceeding even the flaming lunacy of Alex Jones and his Infowars.com website.

For those of you who (blessedly) have not heard of or are unfamiliar with "QAnon," this article from Vox and this one from the Washington Post will give you a good introduction into the craziness of the conspiracy site that has gripped the fevered imaginations of many Trump supporters and far-right true believers. Here's one example: Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are secretly working together to bring down ... wait for it ... the Clintons! Other QAnon howlers include:

* The CIA placed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in power;

* Seth Rich was murdered by MS13 under orders from former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz;

* Many prominent Democrats are now wearing ankle monitors because they are secretly under arrest.

It's bad enough that ridiculous twaddle like that pushed by "Q" is out there at all, but far worse is that so many Americans - who ought to know better - swallow the bilge whole. This is what happens when presidents lie with impunity, education is devalued, and what feels true is more readily accepted than proven facts. 

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown award for August, 2018, is presented to the ultimate in tinfoil hat conspiracy theorists - QAnon - and its gullible believers, who are a true danger to the nation.


Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday ... you know you need it.

More thoughts then.

Bilbo

* Does anybody know what that means in the digital music age?

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thinking about Mission: Impossible


No, this isn't about saving the republic from Donald Trump.

The latest film in the Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible series - number six, titled Fallout - has opened to rave reviews. It's been called "the most exciting mission yet" and "the summer's best movie" ... one review breathlessly proclaims, "Fallout is the summer’s greatest diversion, a non-stop pummeling of the senses that will activate the dumbest parts of your brain and temporarily convince you that what you are screaming, gasping, and laughing at is, in fact, possible."

Well, I'm sorry, but I'm not impressed. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I've seen the first five in the series, and while they were exciting in their way, I was very disappointed. I don't think any of them lived up to what I loved about the classic Mission: Impossible TV series.

The Mission: Impossible movies are simply star vehicles for Tom Cruise and a host of pyrotechnics experts, armorers, and stunt drivers. The old TV show was different, in a critical way.

In the TV series, the IM Force, led first by Dan Briggs and later by Jim Phelps, developed insanely complicated plans to bring down really bad bad guys. But they didn't rely on pyrotechnics, gunfights, and fierce martial arts combat ... they relied on psychology and on intricate schemes that would not only result in the defeat and ruin of the villains, but would leave them utterly horror-struck and unable to comprehend what had just happened to them.

The TV series was exciting because it was quietly suspenseful. Unbelievable, yes, but suspenseful. Consider the episode titled "Old Man Out," when the IM Force rescued an elderly religious leader imprisoned in an escape-proof fortress: the plan involved getting a member of the team into the prison to sail the old man out on a zip line ... right above the heads of the unsuspecting guards, who were distracted by the circus* the rest of the team was staging outside the walls. Or the episode in which they hijacked a passenger train and hid it in a warehouse where they staged an entire journey culminating in a huge crash ... all in order to unmask the perfidy of a foreign leader's key advisor. Want more? Here's an article that summarizes some of the best episodes.

I'll watch the movies, but the TV show was a lot better.

And I don't like Tom Cruise, anyhow.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

* We're still being distracted by circuses, aren't we?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Musical Sunday


I heard this song for the first time as it was playing in the background in a local restaurant, and I whipped out my trusty smartphone and used Shazam to learn what it was. I loved the tune, but was largely mystified by the lyrics, which I have since researched, and which I'm reproducing after the video for those of you who are equally mystified. The video is a little weird, but you can make of it what you will. Here's George Ezra singing "Budapest."



And here are the lyrics:

My house in Budapest
My hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo

You
You
I'd leave it all

My acres of a land
I have achieved
It may be hard for you to
Stop and believe

But for you
You
I'd leave it all

Oh for you
You
I'd leave it all

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
And baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My many artifacts
The list goes on
If you just say the words
I'll up and run

Oh, to you
You
I'd leave it all

Oh, to you
You
I'd leave it all

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My friends and family
They don't understand
They fear they'll lose so much
If you take my hand

But, for you
You
I'd lose it all…

Oh, for you
You
I'd lose it all…

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

Give me one good reason
Why I should never make a change
Baby if you hold me
Then all of this will go away

My house in Budapest
My hidden treasure chest
Golden grand piano
My beautiful Castillo

You
You
I'd leave it all

Oh, for you
You
I'd leave it all…


Do you have someone you love enough to "leave it all?" I do, and I hope you do, too.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


Agnes and I are visiting Chincoteague Island with our daughter and her family, and so the usual summary of bad news won't appear this week. Don't worry, though ... the bad news never stops, and we'll catch up next weekend. For now, on with the cartoons ... this week, in honor of the president's hatred and disdain for news that's insufficiently fawning over him and his administration, we offer a collection of cartoons about the news media ...

That's pretty much what I look like when I watch ...


Such a warning really would be nice, wouldn't it? ...


A long and storied history ...


True of every cable news channel you can name ...


It's all in how you choose to look at it ...


It would be physically, if not intellectually less bloody ...


If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know that I am fascinated by the Seven Deadly Sins ...


Now, that's a horrible curse ...


Hard to imagine, isn't it? ...


How I feel much of the time ...


And so we close out our last Cartoon Saturday for the month of July, with a nod to the much-maligned news media. Go forth and scream about the shortcomings of whichever network you choose not to watch.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Musical Sunday and an interesting song by George Ezra. More thoughts then.

Bilbo