Sunday, September 30, 2018

Poetry Sunday

Today is the last day of September, and so it's probably appropriate to share this timely poem ...


it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet
I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses
in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves
as if after a battle
or a sudden journey
I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain
in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn

Tomorrow will be a new month. One hopes it will be better than the old one.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Just when you thought it can't get any worse ...

For the first time in history, a President of the United States was laughed at in the UN General Assembly; a hearing to determine the veracity of sexual assault allegations by Professor Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh degenerated into a partisan shouting match that embarrassed the nation and did nothing to resolve the allegations; Tara Fares, an Iraqi model and popular social media star known as "Miss Baghdad," was murdered in the latest of a series of attacks on prominent persons; in Indonesia, a tsunami triggered by an earthquake devastated the city of Palu; and a hacking attack on Facebook exposed information on nearly 50 million users and allowed the attackers to access to those users' accounts with other sites and apps that they logged into using Facebook.

This week, after the ridiculous display of partisan insanity in the nation's capital, it seems appropriate to try to find a little something about Congress to laugh at ...

Is it time to update some of our beloved children's stories? ...

Disappointment is the order of the day ...

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

Well, I find it disturbing ...

It seems to be the primary qualification nowadays ...

It certainly works for the current administration ...

This is what is referred to in Congress as "regular order" ...

I'd give at least partial credit for that answer ...

I think of it more as unreality TV ...

I'd go with choice "B" ...

Well, I hope that you enjoyed my cartoon look at Congress more than Congress itself. It could hardly be worse.

It looks like we'll be having a nice weekend here in NoVa, which will enable me to try to do some end-of-summer garden maintenance after a week of rain and colder temperatures. Soon it will be winter, and I'll be stuck inside, so I need to enjoy these outside days while I can.

Have a good day and a great weekend. See you tomorrow, when Poetry Sunday returns.


Friday, September 28, 2018

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2018

As September draws to a close, it's time once again to hold our noses, put on the protective gloves, and reach into the swirling cesspool of ass clownery to select our

Left-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2018

and the award goes - without the least question - to

The Senate Judiciary Committee

At a time when the level of respect in which Congress is held is at an all-time low, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee - of both parties - have provided ample reason for that dismal rating. The unseemly and ludicrous rush to the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to a Supreme Court appointment has demonstrated the very worst in the decay of the Senate's honorable Constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on important nominations - particularly lifetime appointments to the nation's highest court.

Regardless of whether or not you believe the accusations levied against Judge Kavanaugh by Professor Christine Blasey Ford and others, the complete refusal of the committee leadership to conduct a thorough, independent investigation that would either clear Judge Kavanaugh of a serious allegation or demonstrate unfitness for the court, one must admit that the Judiciary Committee's approach to the charges and their potential impact on the judge and on the entire Supreme Court represented the absolute worst in raw power politics with no consideration for the reputations, feelings, and concerns of Kavanaugh, Ford, and - indeed - Congress itself.

The shameful temper tantrum thrown by Senator Lindsey Graham, the invocation by Judge Kavanaugh of the standard go-to GOP bugbear of the Clintons, the refusal to call witnesses to testify under oath, the refusal to ask the FBI to investigate the allegations, and the cheap political point-scoring by Republicans and Democrats alike have made a complete mockery of the serious business of ensuring that the most qualified and respected jurists are nominated and confirmed to the Supreme Court.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Readers, just when you thought that the level of ass-clownery in Congress couldn't get any worse, when you thought that the level of political lunacy at the expense of the nation couldn't get any higher, when you thought that there was still a chance that persons of good will could rise above partisan shouting to do the right thing ... along comes the most shameful and un-American display in my memory, and perhaps ever. The nation has seldom - if ever - been so poorly served by its elected representatives.

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown Award for September, 2018, is presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And my choice of a collection of empty suits as the accompanying illustration is about as appropriate as I could find.

Have a good day, and come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. Gawd knows we need the laughs. More thoughts then.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Musical Sunday

This past Wednesday we celebrated the birthday of Dutch saxophonist Candy Dulfur. She didn't have a great many hits, but (IMHO) one of the best modern sax tracks I've ever heard was this one - her collaboration with guitarist David Stewart (of Eurythmics, with Annie Lennox) ...

Lily can come back any time. I just hope she doesn't bring Dave Stewart's awful jacket along.

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


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

What a week it's been ... we need cartoons, stat!

The mystery surrounding the sudden, unexplained closure of an observatory in New Mexico was finally solved when the reason turned out not to be aliens or an approaching asteroid, but child pornography being traded on the observatory's network; North Carolina remains under vast floodwaters resulting from tropical storm Florence; a temporary employee at a Rite-Aid distribution center in Maryland fatally shot herself after murdering three people and wounding three others; at least 100 people are known to have died after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on Lake Victoria in Tanzania; and the high-speed nomination train for the Supreme Court appointment of  Judge Bret Kavanaugh hit a snag when a woman accused him of sexual assault during a drunken high-school party nearly 40 years ago.

The news is so disheartening, and the public discourse so ugly, that we really need some funny cartoons. This week, we send in the clowns* ...

Just in time ...

And that goes for you, too, Congress ...

This might help mitigate the environmental damage once the present EPA rolls back pollution controls on cars ...

It could be expensive to put the noises back ...

When clowns don't make it in the big leagues ...

Ten steps, turn, and throw ...

Get it? ...

Special delivery ...

Yes, they are. And we elected them ...

One hopes ...

Well, that's enough clowning around ... the weekend is beckoning. We're expecting iffy weather here in NoVa, but - fortunately - nothing close to the disastrous mess delivered by Florence down south ... that still hasn't delivered its full damage yet as rain-swollen rivers carry additional flooding forward. If you live in North or South Carolina, please stay safe.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Musical Sunday belatedly celebrates the birthday of saxophonist Candy Dulfur.


* Those currently serving in Congress not eligible.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Ah, how quickly two weeks pass! And just in time for some random silliness to take our minds off the random silliness that passes for representative government nowadays ...

Well, I suppose I'd be angry, too, if I were a chicken being fried ...

I've never been called an "old pouffe." Yet.

I would have volunteered to help in a heartbeat ...

Now, that's a real RV! ...

Well, he's honest ... 

Won't last long, indeed ...

Pencil shavings? ...

When you need it, you really need it ...

I'm not sure these are particularly good selling points ...

I wonder where they bought their doors ...

And there you go ... a new collection of head-turning editorial oddities. I hope you enjoyed them.

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday ... more thoughts then.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

Poetry Sunday

One of our favorite sports nowadays is taking down our previously-admired heroes, proving that they fall short of our praise and walk about on feet of the softest clay. It seems like not a day goes by on which some public figure or another is exposed and virtually pilloried for some offense, real or imagined, and one has to wonder why anyone would run for public office when every aspect of his or her life may become grist for the mill of public excoriation.

This week's poem by Rudyard Kipling looks at how the failings of a leader came to light - literally - on the Afghan frontier ...

A Code of Morals
by Rudyard Kipling

Now Jones had left his new-wed bride to keep his house in order,
And hied away to the Hurrum Hills above the Afghan border,
To sit on a rock with a heliograph; but ere he left he taught
His wife the working of the Code that sets the miles at naught.

And Love had made him very sage, as Nature made her fair;
So Cupid and Apollo linked, per heliograph, the pair.
At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise --
At e'en, the dying sunset bore her husband’s homilies.

He warned her 'gainst seductive youths in scarlet clad and gold,
As much as 'gainst the blandishments paternal of the old;
But kept his gravest warnings for (hereby the ditty hangs)
That snowy-haired Lothario, Lieutenant-General Bangs.

'Twas General Bangs, with Aide and Staff, who tittupped on the way,
When they beheld a heliograph tempestuously at play.
They thought of Border risings, and of stations sacked and burnt --
So stopped to take the message down -- and this is what they learnt --

"Dash dot dot, dot, dot dash, dot dash dot" twice. The General swore.
"Was ever General Officer addressed as 'dear' before?
"'My Love,' i' faith! 'My Duck,' Gadzooks! 'My darling popsy-wop!'
"Spirit of great Lord Wolseley, who is on that mountaintop?"

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute; the gilded Staff were still,
As, dumb with pent-up mirth, they booked that message from the hill;
For clear as summer lightning-flare, the husband's warning ran: --
"Don't dance or ride with General Bangs -- a most immoral man."

[At dawn, across the Hurrum Hills, he flashed her counsel wise --
But, howsoever Love be blind, the world at large hath eyes.]
With damnatory dot and dash he heliographed his wife
Some interesting details of the General's private life.

The artless Aide-de-camp was mute, the shining Staff were still,
And red and ever redder grew the General's shaven gill.
And this is what he said at last (his feelings matter not): --
"I think we've tapped a private line. Hi! Threes about there! Trot!"

All honour unto Bangs, for ne'er did Jones thereafter know
By word or act official who read off that helio.
But the tale is on the Frontier, and from Michni to Mooltan
They know the worthy General as "that most immoral man."

Watch out for General Bangs ... there may soon be a need for a new Chief of Staff or National Security Advisor in the administration.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. If you are in the path of Hurricane Florence, please stay safe ... I don't want to lose any of you.

More thoughts later.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Between a Category 1 hurricane and a Category 6 presidency, it's been a heck of a week ...

Hurricane Florence crawled ashore in North Carolina, bringing storm surge, winds, and the potential to dump ten trillion gallons of rain on the state, while on the other side of the world, typhoon Mangkhut has devastated parts of the Philippines; former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort has entered a plea arrangement with the Justice Department in which he avoids further prosecution on federal crimes and agrees to cooperate with other investigations; thousands of people remain out of their homes near Boston after a series of devastating gas line explosions that killed at least one person and injured at least 23; and the temporary closure of an observatory in New Mexico has sparked wide-ranging speculation over its cause, especially after reports that the FBI was involved.

In the interest of being topical, I thought I'd offer some cartoons this week riffing on the subject of anonymity ... sadly, there aren't as many as I would have thought, so this week's selection is a bit shorter than usual.

That's not how this works, is it? ...

This is how it works ...

Anonymity is not always your friend ...

Everyone please take a seat ... or a creeper ...

Well, it would be, wouldn't it? ...

Who else do we know that will never admit to having any problems? ...

Hope that first guy doesn't stop suddenly ...

And that's it for this week. I thought I'd find a lot more cartoons on this topic in my collection than I did, but those I did find were, IMHO, pretty good. Hope you enjoyed them.

We are enjoying a relatively nice weekend here in NoVa, following our frantic preparations for the possible arrival of Hurricane Florence. I remember being here for Hurricane Isabel some years ago, which was bad enough, but nowhere near what we thought might happen this time. If you or your friends or loved ones are affected by Florence, I hope you are safe.

Have as good a weekend as you can, depending on where you live. See you tomorrow for more thoughts as Poetry Sunday returns.


Friday, September 14, 2018

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2018

It's a new month ... well, it's almost half over, but it's still "new" for our present purpose, which is the selection and announcement of

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for September, 2018

From the dishearteningly large pool of prospective awardees, I believe that one stands out for this period, and so I present the award to

An Anonymous Senior Official
in the
Trump Administration

Unless you have been living in a remote cave in the Gobi Desert for the last week or two, you know that the Trump administration has been thrown into a tizzy by the publication of a scathing op-ed article in the New York Times - attributed to "A Senior Official in the Trump Administration" - about resistance to Donald Trump by his own political appointees.

I have decided to present the award to this anonymous official because he (or she) has taken the coward's way out. It is one thing to oppose the actions of the administration on principle, but it is quite another to throw out accusations and hide behind a cloak of anonymity while still maintaining that "many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous." 

A senior administration official who sincerely believed that Donald Trump is an unfit president would have better served the nation and the presidency by standing up, making his (or her) accusations clearly, and resigning. By hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, the individual simply gives Donald Trump a golden opportunity to rail about the "deep state," enrage his base, and deflect attention away from his actions which are damaging the long-term interests of the United States and its standing in the world. 

The identity of the anonymous writer will eventually be revealed. Unfortunately, the disastrous Trump presidency will go on, brushing aside the writer's concerns - and those of everyone else - like so many annoying gnats.

Have a good day. Expect better from the administration, but don't get your hopes too high.

More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Debate by Meme

There was a time, not so long ago, when we read widely, thought deeply, and debated serious issues with each other. Unfortunately, that time is past. Nowadays, instead of mustering facts upon which we can all agree and using them to determine the best course of action to resolve issues, we trade memes.

I first read about the concept of a meme in 1995 in Howard Bloom's wonderful book The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History*. The meme of which Bloom writes is not the meme we understand today, and indeed the word has two distinct meanings. In the original context, a meme is "an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, especially imitation." The present-day definition with which most of us are familiar is a bit different - "a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users."

In its original meaning, a meme represents a major idea or concept that spreads among populations - a religion like Catholicism or Islam or a political belief like Communism, for instance. Such a meme spreads by taking root in the minds of a target audience and changing their beliefs or behavior.

The memes swirling around the Internet today are vastly different. They attempt to use a humorous or sarcastic image to promote a bumper-sticker of an idea that appeals to those unable or unwilling to invest the time in carefully examining the issue in detail. Here's an example of a recent meme that showed up in my Facebook feed:

This is actually a double meme. The original one, on the top, was an attempt to push back against the tendency on the part of many politicians to insist on a leading role for Christian beliefs as a basis for the government. The second one, on the bottom, modifies the first to push back against a simplistic version of progressive ideas and a bastardized definition of socialism.

Reading through the comments posted to the original posting of the meme was more interesting and enlightening than the meme itself. For one thing, it showed that many commenters did not understand the difference between the Declaration of Independence (which spoke of inalienable rights endowed to man by a Creator**) and the Constitution (which makes no mention of religion other than to guarantee its free exercise*** and to proscribe the use of any religious test for public office). For another, it revealed the shallowness of understanding that comes with relying on simplistic memes rather than study and reasoned debate to advance ideas.

Memes can be funny. They cannot substitute for thought and for debate based on facts.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when we name the Right-Cheek Ass Clown for September. Be here.


* I cannot urge you strongly enough to read this book.

** Not a specifically Christian god.

*** Again, the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It does not limit such exercise to any specific religious belief, as much as many sincere believers would have you believe.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Musical Sunday

I realize that I've already used this wonderful song by Kid Creole and the Coconuts as a Musical Sunday offering (back on August 12th, not so long ago), but given the publication of Bob Woodward's new book about the internal chaos of the Trump White House, and the publication in the New York Times of the anonymous op-ed by a "senior administration official" on the same topic, I felt like it was a good time to bring it back. And anyway, who doesn't love the Coconuts? Here's my reprise of "Stool Pigeon" ...

Have a good day, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and consider that there are only two more days until the publication of Bob Woodward's book, of which you've already heard much, anyhow. I'm #115 on the waiting list for it at my local library.

More thoughts coming.


Saturday, September 08, 2018

Cartoon Saturday

Even by current standards, it's been a helluva week ...

The White House went into a finger-pointing uproar following publication of an anonymous op-ed article by a "senior administration official" expressing concern over Donald Trump's fitness to be president; Brazil's national museum was totally destroyed by a huge fire, with the loss of countless irreplaceable artifacts and files; hearings on the nomination of Bret Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court descended into partisan rancor and stonewalling, offering little insight into the nominee's judicial philosophy, and judge Kavanaugh declined to criticize Donald Trump's attacks on the independent judiciary; and good-ol'-boy actor Burt Reynolds passed away at the age of 82.

This week, let's look at cartoons about cavepersons, because why not? ...

Yes, deflection of responsibility is a longstanding practice ...

How evolution works ...

Caveat emptor ...

Teenagers never change ...

We're still worried about arms races ...

One bitrock = 100 pebbles ...

Wow ... something in common! ...

The dawn of legal specialization ...

Oh, oh ... hope he doesn't come home with mammoth instead of aurochs ...

Good question ...

And there you are - a collection of prehistoric humor to help you get over the prehistoric nature of Congressional activity. I hope it worked.

Here in NoVa, it looks as if our heat wave has broken, at least for a few days, as temperatures drop into the low-to-mid 70's and rain returns. Not like my garden needs it. Plus, I can perhaps get in a nice power walk or two or three! Life's good.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, when Musical Sunday returns. See you then.