May I have a Word?


And here, for all its likeness with current events, is where it isn’t funny anymore:

Donald Trump is well under way to win the nomination and probably split up the Republican Party in the process. I don’t want to give Trump more exposure, to be honest, whatever I read or see from that man nauseates and even scares me. I have a few words for you all, though.

There are boundaries in the political discourse that cannot be crossed. Period.

The political opponent is neither a con artist, a choke artist, a liar, nor lacking control of his bodily functions. Alluding to a candidate’s hands’size is well beyond those boundaries, too, because it alludes not really to trustworthiness but rather the man’s penis size in common lore. Even that didn’t stop one of the competitors.

The poor are not moochers, Mexicans are not rapists, doctors are not baby killers, Muslims are not terrorists.

The President is not a traitor, a liar, impeachable for any reason, nor is he destroying the country.

Supreme Court judges are not activist or traitors, nor are their rulings  unconstitutional.

Free speech is a privilege not only a constitutional right. Why  would I think that?

Because words matter.

When you denigrate a candidate you tear down your party and the political process to find a worthy nominee for President. If you gratuitously insult a President, you diminish the office. If you dismiss Supreme Court rulings and the judges, you attack the constitution itself. All three acts tear at the fabric of your Democracy and its institutions by making them less relevant and less worthy of defense.

When you go and summarily denigrate your fellow humans, don’t worry about your democracy anymore, you are on a path that ends in bloodshed for certain and possibly genocide.

I am scared of what is coming. Things over here are not much better. Today refugees were teargassed at the European border, amongst them children as young as five. I am scared and I am deeply ashamed, too.

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 29, 2016: Leap of Science Day

Monday, February 29, 2016, marks another nearly-quadrennial observation of the triumph of Science over Faith. Leap Day. The day we add to the calendar to correct for the fact that God didn’t make the Earth go around the Sun in a way that has any relation to how long it takes to spin once on its axis. Nor did God make the Moon orbit the Earth in an even number of days, or in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, which turned out to be the Center of our own Solar System (one of, it turns out, a hundred billion in just this Galaxy) contrary to what those men who had a direct pipeline to the Almighty Creator told everyone was true. Not for nothing, but doesn’t the fact that some otherwise ordinary man who was in charge of a Religion tortured people for not believing something that was scientifically inaccurate and still got to be called “infallible” make you think, even for a second, that maybe their Religion was wrong about other things, too? But I digress. Or not. Now the Moon goes around the Earth 13 times for each revolution of the Earth around the Sun, depending on how you measure them. I thought the number 13 was supposed to be bad. So why would God make our Moon go around the Earth a bad number of times in a year? In fact, assuming God did make our solar system, why make our planet have such a strange orbit? Why not a regular, circular, easily predictable, revolution, with no tilting of the planet and changing of the seasons? And why not start life in the tropics, instead of a desert? And why even bother with the other planets and planetary debris and asteroids if the point of this planet was to support life for the only living things in the universe? If there’s nothing on Mars for us to see, then why would God make Mars for us to see? Or let us name it for an inferior god? Sorry, but the whole Christian Creation Myth makes no more sense than any other cultures’ creation myths. When something doesn’t make sense through Reason, they tell us you have to have Faith. But Faith is just the rejection of Reason, so they are really telling us, “It makes sense if you don’t think about it.” Then why believe it? Why believe something is literally true if it makes no sense when you think about it? Then explain to me why you should threaten peoples’ lives for not believing it? But I digress. Again. Leap Day is a triumph because it was Science, not Religion, which revealed to us our method of keeping track of time needed adjusting if it was to keep in alignment with whichever celestial body was guiding our long term time reckoning. The ancient Egyptians used a much simpler calendar, which they knew needed tweaking every four years. To understand why we do it today, you have to go back to the time when Romulans walked the Earth.

About 2770 years ago, King Romulus, the first king of Rome and leader of the Romulan Empire, which consisted pretty much of just his kingdom, was said to have invented the Roman calendar. Other people were keeping track of time in their own way, so it’s not like he invented the entire concept of the calendar. He just invented the one that would become the basis of the one we use here in America today (and many other places, which are alleged to exist on this planet.) The one that started when winter ended, in a month named for the God of War. Wait, what? You heard that right. King Romulus may not have been entirely sure of what he wanted, but hew knew he wanted his calendar to have ten months. Some historians believe (which means the rest don’t) that the ancient Romans did not believe in fighting wars during the Winter, so the new year began when Winter ended. Which is why they named their first month Martius, after Mars, the God of War. The next month was named Aprilis, though no one’s really sure why. Some think it was really called Aphrilis and was named for Aphrodite. But that would be silly because Aphrodite was the Greek Goddess of Love, not the Roman one, Venus. Others less silly think it was named for the Latin verb Aperire, meaning to open, on account of that’s about the time flowers started opening all over the place. Makes better sense than naming it after another group’s gods. His third month was called Maius, after Maia, the Goddess of growth and plants. The fourth was called Junius, named after Juno, Queen of the Gods and patroness of weddings and marriages. Then King Romulus must have gotten tired because the remaining six months were named after the numbers Five through Ten. Quintilis, Sextilis, September, October, November, and December. Martius, Maius, Quintilis and October would have 31 days, the rest 30. Then they apparently let 61 days and a couple of moons go by before they would begin their new calendar.

Loonies that they were, the Romulan calendar was based on the phases of the Moon. Now if the point of having a calendar is to tell when you when it’s time to plant the crops, you’re going to run into problems basing it on the phases of the moon. Here’s why:

The orbit of the Moon around the Earth is not an easy process. The Moon makes a complete orbit around the Earth approximately once every 28 days. This means that the Moon orbits the Earth around 13 times in a year. The complex part pops up because there are several ways to consider a complete orbit of the Moon, but the two most familiar are: the “sidereal month” being the time it takes to make a complete orbit with respect to the stars, about 27.3 days; and the “synodic month” being the time it takes to reach the same phase, about 29.5 days. These differ because in the meantime the Earth and Moon have both orbited some distance around the Sun.

“Phase” is the way to describe the relative position of any object that moves in a cyclical form. The phase of the Moon is measured in degrees, from 0 (zero) to 360 (three hundred and sixty).

It doesn’t take long before a lunar-based calendar gets, to use the technically correct scientific term, out of whack. And that happened to the Romulan calendar. Each of its months had day markers that fell on the first new moon, the days of the half moons, and the days of the full moon. The new moon marked the first day of the month and was called the Calends. The Ides fell on the full moon, and the Nones were eight days before the Ides. Events were documented according to how many days they happened before or after these markers. This calendar really didn’t work because it didn’t align very well with the seasons, so about fifty years later, King Numa Pompilius, decided to make some changes. He added Januarius and Februarius to the beginning of the year, rather than to the end. This meant the months named for their position in the year no longer matched. I’m sure that bothered a lot of people. It bothers me to this day. And it still didn’t work. They even had a system where someone (not necessarily the emperor) would add an extra month, called an intercalary month, to try to get the calendar in line with the seasons. Finally, Julius Caesar (inventor of the Orange Julius and, later in his career, a successful Las Vegas casino magnate) did away with intercalary months, renamed Quintilis after himself, and borrowed the idea of the Leap Year from the Egyptians, whom he was fucking on the side. Some final adjustments were added by a subsequent ruler, Augustus, who took the liberty of renaming Sextilis after himself. Who knows? If Rome hadn’t fallen when it did, the months of September through December might be called something else by now.

The Gregorian Calendar we use today was based on Pope Gregory’s dislike of the idea that Easter was always shifting around on the calendar, so he made some more adjustments that included the fact that while there would be a Leap Year every four years, there wouldn’t be in years divisible by 100 (such as 1700, 1800 and 1900) unless they were also divisible by 400 (2000). Then he decided to take eleven days out of the calendar to make everything line up better. The official change in the colonies happened in 1752. George Washington was actually born Feb 11, 1732 under the Julian Calendar. When the switch to the Gregorian was made, Washington simply changed his birthday to the familiar Feb 22, 1732. Some people, perhaps those who believed God really did have a book in which He wrote your date of birth and death, thought they were suddenly moved eleven days closer to their date of death (as determined by God’s Little Black Book.) This was nonsense, of course, because everyone knew God was using the Mayan Calendar and we were all going to die in 2012. So even though the motivation to change the calendar was based on Religion, we can thank Science that there was a rational, logical, objectively justifiable reason to add a Leap Day, and not because God told somebody to do it.

This is our once-every-four-years thread. But you can still feel free to discuss what you want.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, February 27th, 2016: Antidote

I’ve been up all night wallowing in the dregs of American “humanity”, IOW, reading headlines and comments on various internet sites. Right now I don’t even want to think about what a despicable, bigoted, uncaring, brutish devolution of a formerly (somewhat) civilized society we’ve become.

So, since I’ve blown right through sunrise here in the east, missing it completely, I’m putting up someone else’s glorious and unusually-tinted sunrise photo as an antidote to the darkness in my mind and soul. I hope it soothes your souls, too.
Golden Sunrise

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever you want.

The Case For Privatizing Social Security


  1. $2.7 TRILLION in Social Security taxes paid has been spent by the Federal Government instead of being held in trust to fund the benefits promised to the American workers.
  2. This, then, creates a $2.7 trillion debt to those workers.
  3. If Social Security is privatized, the debt would instead be owed to the ruling class. In other words, taxpayers would have to pay additional taxes to repay that debt to the investors who snap up the Social Security “trust” fund.
  4. Future Social Security ‘taxes’ would then be invested in the unregulated, boom and bust financial industry. With every bust, worker’s retirements would be wiped out, to the benefit of the ruling class.

Thus the ruling class has $2.7 trillion reasons for privatizing Social Security.

The Watering Hole; Friday February 26 2016; The Political Brain Drain

No verbal essay today. Instead, below is an able summation of not only the week’s nonsensical political brain drain, but also of the last year’s political brain drain, all captured via the words of a pair of academy award-eligible right wing nutcases.

First, Michele Bachmann, who points out to pseudo-historian David Barton the erroneous factoid many of us have had pounded into us since birth, that A ‘Biblical Basis For Society’ Is The Key To Happiness.

As Batscat notes, “You could summarize it by saying, ‘Get a brain.”


And now, Alex Jones lets fly on how ‘No Amount Of Fluoride In The Water’ Can Stop Donald Trump. Jones appears to like the prospect of a Donald Trump Presidency even more than my abhorrence of said concept. Hard to imagine joy at the notion, I know, but . . . well, you be the judge.

And finally, on a somewhat brighter note, Oklahoma gun range owner and Second Amendment zealot Jan Morgan — whom Marco Rubio recently criticized for not allowing a US Army reservist to use her range because he’s a Muslim — had this to say in her non-endorsement of Rubio’s presidential aspirations:

“If Marco Rubio thinks that training and putting guns in the hands of people who align themselves with a theocracy that commands them to kill innocent people, if that’s his definition of immoral, then he needs to be running on another ticket and I expect, any day now, to hear him announcing endorsements from the Muslim Brotherhood, CAIR, Hamas and ISIS.”

How nice it must be to live somewhere amongst such truly fine people, amongst folks who would NEVER stoop so low as to kill innocent people just because some so-called “leaders” might train them, ‘put guns in their hands,’ and then command them to . . . you know, like go to war, kill people, stuff like that. If I should ever happen upon such a place, I’ll pass the word, with directions even. Meanwhile, I shall be waiting with baited breath to hear — from Rubio himself — confirmation of those rumored endorsements.

Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Carson, Kasich . . . McConnell, Ryan, Priebus . . . Limbaugh, Savage, Jones . . . Palin et al. et al. Every time I run across a Republican, no matter the position, no matter anything at all . . . I’m reminded of this:

As I was going up the stair
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d stay away.
(Hughes Mearns)

Explains a lot. Pretty much defines the GOP, and why ‘I wish, I wish (they’d go) away.’ Amen.