Sunday Roast: Turbulence & Van Gogh

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Wrap your head around this one!

Although it makes a weird sort of sense, to me anyway, that a mind in the midst of extreme suffering might perceive things in a different way than a calmer mind.  It is rather simplistic, but thinking about it that way feels good.

Let’s not neglect the gobbledygook math thing…on second thought, let’s do.

And now, a beautiful quote from one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who, Vincent and the Doctor.

The Doctor:  Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?

Curator:  Well… um… big question, but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world’s greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Can anyone doubt that Vincent van Gogh is my favorite artist?

This is our daily open thread — Get on with it.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, November 22, 2014: This Week in Paranoia: Facts vs. Freakery on Obama’s Immigration Reforms

President Barack Obama announced earlier in the week that he would later be announcing several reforms to the immigration system, largely because Republicans have been reluctant to pass anything in the House to address the issue. So, as he has said many times before in an ultimately failed effort to spur the House to pass the bill the Senate sent them, the president said that if Congress failed to act, he would. They didn’t, so he did, and now they’re totally freaking out. They’re claiming they now have grounds for impeachment (actually, some of them said this before he made the official announcement, based on nothing more than their own imagination about what the president would actually say) because the president is trying to ignite a civil war, and that citizens must resist “by any means necessary” any attempt to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, and that it’s all part of a plot to not only guarantee millions of future Democratic voters, but to turn the United States into a Third World country and because now there will be all kinds of voter fraud (you just know it.) None of these fears are reality-based.

The calls for impeachment really crack me up because they were coming before the president’s announcement, and many were citing the president’s proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants as the primary charge against him. Former Florida Congressman (and current “Where Are They Now File” resident) Allen West told Newsmax, “It will be the president saying, ‘You know, I want to violate the Constitution and grant amnesty to people who are here illegally.’” Family Research Council President and Anal Sex Expert Tony Perkins said, in his very roundabout way, “What the president is about to do on amnesty is essentially tell, using his authority as the chief executive, the president, to the executive branch, Homeland Security, immigration, not to enforce the law, which is a violation of his oath to uphold the law.” Eagle Forum founder and former female Phyllis Schlafly thinks that amnesty by executive action constitutes a high crime or misdemeanor.

There are at least three things obviously wrong with these allegations. First, at the time each of these people made these remarks, the president had not actually announced his plan, and when he did, it didn’t include amnesty. The right wing is really afraid of that word – “amnesty.” They talk about it all the time as if granting it to millions of people whose only crime was in the way they entered the country would bring about the end of the United States of America. They talk about it it as if it’s the worst abuse of power a president could commit (including, apparently, lying us into a costly, unnecessary war). They talk about it as if it’s the most un-American thing a president could do. So their fears about amnesty are unfounded because the president wasn’t proposing any. Second, it is actually totally within the president’s constitutional authority to grant amnesty to millions of people who entered the country illegally. The president can grant amnesty to anyone he or she desires. The president can also selectively enforce the law and decide which laws won’t be as aggressively prosecuted as others, since there isn’t enough funding to enforce all the laws anyway. It doesn’t mean a succeeding president can’t prosecute if the statute of limitations hasn’t expired, so it isn’t the same as amnesty, which would deny prosecution later. By the way, the president’s oath says he will faithfully execute the office of president, not “uphold the law.” Executing the duties of the president sometimes involves deciding when to prosecute someone and when not to. Former President George Herbert Walker Bush granted amnesty to former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for his criminal role in the previous administration’s plan to sell arms to terrorists in exchange for hostages. (A plan which, for the record, Bush later wrote in his memoirs that he was the only one who knew everything that was going on with the arms-for-hostages deal to raise money to illegally give to rebel fighters in Central America.) And third (speaking of Reagan), former President Ronald Reagan granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Care to comment on that example of un-American activity by a president, Right Wing? If you like some facts to chew on, check out this great post at PoliticusUsa.

That’s just the crazy people talking about impeaching the president for executing a constitutional authority he actually has but didn’t actually use. Check out the link to see who thinks we’re headed for civil war, how the vote is getting rigged while simultaneously increasing voter fraud. And the good people at Think Progress (with whom I’ve had many exchanges over the years) have found other people going similarly crazy over Obama’s use of executive authority (which he is constitutionally required to do.) There’s a lot of sadly misinformed people out there, and some of them are members of the Legislative Branch in our Federal Government. I think you should be very concerned about that. You can start by looking at your own state legislatures, where many of these people got their start. To undo Republican gerrymandering, we have to take back the state legislatures by 2020, so we can control the drawing of Congressional District maps, which is the only way we’ll ever take back the House of Representatives. And we have to get rid of electronic voting, which can easily be rigged and manipulated, and very likely has in some key races in recent years. It is not secure, and it can easily change election results to anyone in power who wants to stay there. Paper ballots are the best way. They don’t take that long to count, and the results can easily be verified and re-counted as needed. Only then can we restore Democracy to America.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss crazy paranoid right wingers serving in our government, or any other topic you wish to discuss.

Music Night, November 21, 2014

If you’re old enough and spent any time as a folkie, you’re probably familiar with Ian & Sylvia, extremely popular Canadian folk singers from the 60s. In 1969 they formed one of the first and best real country rock bands — which was, as always, a shock to many of their fans. Great Speckled Bird’s eponymous LP was brilliant and influential, and it dropped from view almost immediately. Somehow I ended up with a copy back then (1970) and fell in love. Over the years I forgot about them for the most part and the record went along with 500 or so vinyl LPs earlier this year when I gave them to a good home. There were one or two limited edition CDs, long out of print, but I’m about to drop nearly $30 for a used copy from Japan. (In the video’s comments someone claims that their French is atrocious but what do I know?)

The Watering Hole; Friday November 21 2014; Autumn’s Passing

Autumn has disappeared. It vanished suddenly on Tuesday November eleventh — exactly one week beyond the moment that a majority of we the people voted to hand over their hopes and dreams to giant corporations and the giga-rich (another story for another time, perhaps) — when the errant global-warming-induced Arctic Cold Front slammed into the nation’s midsection and blew the gentle temps of mid-autumn southward until they disappeared somewhere to the south of the Gulf of Mexico.

Anyway — in the interest of finding a near optimal method of (gradual) recovery from my recent medical dilemma, I spent much of October and early November (till the climate crash) walking a LOT — always in pursuit of idyllic Autumnal moments here, at the foot of the Colorado Rockies Front Range (everything looked a lot more impressive in real life than in these shrunken photographs; still, it seems worth a try, so here goes).

First, from a perfectly calm and idyllic day, October 24, a Canadian Goose enjoying his sojourn in splashing and feathered soliloquy:

Goose 658Ah, the joys of wing flapping and splahing whilst standing on a mud bottom in one’s home lake!

Next up and just a few hundred yards further along the shore’s margin, a patch of autumnally-tinted trees with doubled visual impact courtesy of their reflections in the glassy waters at their feet:Lake Beckwith 630Made me wonder, upon ‘reflection’ (sotospeak) — what if reflection, rather than reality, was existence’s real thing? What then? Hmmm; I will think on this. Meanwhile, a closer view of the central portion of the above reality seems kind of interesting when it’s flipped upside down. It’s a bit fuzzy, of course, but the rippled “brush strokes” seem to suggest something almost what — Claude Monet-esque?

Inverted Reflections 627 Maybe?

Onward to the idyll of November 8th; same lake, similar trees, less color, less leaves, but same vivid reflections –

Beckwith Reflections 691Fascinating. Here’s an isolated view of the reflections only; (Lessee; November 8th, only six days shy of November 14 and Claude Monet’s 174th birthday . . . ??)Inverted Beckwith Reflections 691Makes one look forward to returning on THIS year’s November 14, just to see if . . . maybe . . . !!

But . . . these are new and different times. The man-caused Climate Change is (sigh) forcing severely altered weather patterns everywhere. And so it was that on the evening of November 10, the following signal was forwarded to me; it arrived circa 6:15 PM from high over the Front Range of the Rockies. The first signal — the view from my front stoop — looked just like this:

Sunset 698Funny how a bunch of really high (those tee-tiny mountains stand at around 12,000 feet, so . . . ) and vibrantly-colored clouds can signal a forthcoming but RAPID temperature drop that will approach 75 degrees F, but that was, indeed, the message therein embedded. Just over 24 hours later, the local temperature had dropped to nearly fifteen below zero, Fahrenheit. A day later, there were six inches of snow on the lake shore; the colored Monet leaves had been blown into at least the next county, and the geese — well, they don’t mind, really. They’re from Canada, after all, and are probably more accustomed to cold and ice than I’ll ever be. Maybe I’ll go out there and check one of these days. Or maybe not!

Adios, Autumn.

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The Watering Hole, Wednesday: Hump Day, November 19, 2014

Welcome to deregulation  2.0. Republicans are giddy at the prospects of controlling both houses of Congress. Only one thing is certain, come January 2015: Congressional gridlock will be a thing of the past. Staffers and aids will be working overtime this Christmas season, drafting bills to deregulate everything from the workplace to how many peanuts must go into a jar of peanut butter.

That makes this next bit of news even more alarming. Yet, as serious as this is, it has gotten no mention in the mainstream media. So, once again, we at The Zoo bring you this exclusive.

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (Amendment XIII to the Constitution of the United States of America)

Thanks to three-strikes laws and drug laws falling disproportionately on the poor and minorities, the for-profit prison industry thrives on slave labor. [note: since this post was wrintten on Sunday, this story broke about prison labor in California.] But come January, there will be a seismic shift, as the Republican-led Congress moves to rid the nation of all laws that enforce the 13th Amendment. Not only will owning a slave no longer be a criminal offense, Republicans plan on stripping the jurisdiction of the federal courts to hear cases where someone claims a violation of constitutional rights under the 13th Amendment.

The move is expected to be hearalded as a major blow to terrorism. “They hate us for our freedoms” President Bush observed. By deregulating slavery, terrorists will no longer have a reason to hate us.

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The Watering Hole, Tuesday November 18, 2014

Michael Pollan Talks Turkey

Something to get us ready for the T-Day. Thank goodness that there were farmers who kept alive heritage breeds and seeds. Quality is coming back to our food system, a little at a time. And the Slow Food Movement has been one of the biggest influences on healthy farm to table eating.

Health in every slow bite.

A Narragansett heritage breed turkey