The Watering Hole, Monday, October 12th, 2015: I’ve “Got A Case Of The Mondays”


"Office Space"

“Office Space”

Technically, it’s not quite Monday as I’m writing this, but I’ve already “got a case of the Mondays.” So to help brighten up the day, here’s a little gif of cute animals:



There, I feel a little better already.

This is our daily Open Thread–what’s on your minds?

Sunday Roast: Taino Genocide Day


This is a few years old, but still pertinent, as Thom scrapes away at the white-washing — literally and figuratively — of the life and actions of Christopher Columbus.  It’s absolutely sickening, and a horrifying indicator of the coming genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Thank goodness the holiday isn’t until Monday — you have time to get to the mall for that big sale.

This is our daily open thread — Barf.

The Watering Hole, Saturday, October 10th, 2015: Communication: Some Rambling Thoughts

Since Wayne is out and about working on clearing his mother’s apartment, I figured I would just throw up a few thoughts that recently came to mind regarding communication.

I think that all of us can agree, without false humility, that each of us in our little group here is well above average when it comes to communicating our thoughts and opinions on national, global, and universal topics. Whether we’re all highly educated or not (i.e., I only have one year of college, while many of you have actual degrees), we have one very basic thing in common: an understanding that each and every word we use has its own particular history and evolution, and therefore its own uniquely particular meaning. We revel in the ability to express ourselves as exactly as possible, and the fact that any one of us Zoosters is capable of writing something so eloquent that it pierces mind and heart is one of the many characteristics that brought us, and continues to keep us, all together.

Of course, searching one’s mind for that perfect word or phrase is not always easy, and I’m sure that, at times, each of us experiences the dissatisfaction of having to resign ourselves to the limitations of language.

This idea was brought home to me this morning, when I was reading an email from my sister. (Background note: none of my family has been very good about communicating with each other, and my sister and I have been the worst. In the olden days, she would talk to mum every weekend, and mum would pass the conversation along. Since our parents died [and the world became a darker and colder place – it was December of 2004, just after the Bush re-election] we’ve become even worse.) I had sent my sister, Anne, belated birthday wishes, and I had lamented that my upcoming birthday, when I will turn 60, was too depressing to think about. In part of Anne’s response to me, she wrote,

“… sixty is so far in my rearview mirror, I…admit thinking it’s right in your face that you aren’t young anymore…But it also made me think about what is important to me and how not to add to my list of regrets. Those sentences took me about ten minutes and still sound more philosophical than I intend. It was more like: YIKES! I could live to a hundred or I could be done and I better get on the case.”

Those few sentences alone told me so much more about my sister than most of our few face-to-face conversations. I realized a long time ago that we were very much alike in many ways, most particularly in our sarcastic/sardonic/sometimes waspish sense of humor, but it had never really occurred to me that we shared the same innate desire to express ourselves as precisely as possible. I won’t bore you more with personal baggage, but her phrase “how not to add to my list of regrets” truly struck home with me.

Moving on to another area of communication…

At work the other day, one of the women in Sales & Marketing was complaining about new requirements and restrictions that the chain drug stores (we deal with Walgreens, Wal-Mart, CVS, etc.) were demanding regarding the wording on our products’ packaging. As you know, the company for which Wayne and I work sell footcare products for various problems such as corns, calluses, bunions, heel pain, etc. Naturally, our packaging includes descriptions of the benefits that each product provides, along with instructions for use and care of the product. The chain stores, for some unknown reason, want us to eliminate much of this. Now, our customers range from medical professionals to dancers, athletes, everyday workers who stand all day, veterans, and so on, and they sometimes include some of the dumbest people on the face of the earth. I don’t know if the chain stores mistakenly believe that dumbing down the packaging information will broaden our products’ appeal, or what, but they pretty much want us to boil our wording down to “Use this, feet feel better” without saying how or why.

Which brought me around to a topic that we’ve much discussed, the use of language by conservatives politicians and pundits. Let me just take two examples of conservatives who have used their understanding of language to make a living in politics, William Safire and Frank Luntz.

In the before-time when my parents got the Sunday New York Times, mum and I shared two favorites: the crossword puzzle, of course – we took turns working on it, and it always irritated me that mum would use a pen while I used a pencil – and Safire’s column “On Language.” His column helped fuel my already keen interest in words and their origins which has obviously stayed with me all of my life. So regardless of William Safire’s conservative faults, and they are many, I have to thank him for his influence on my life.

Not so Frank Luntz. Luntz has been a snake-oil salesman who has used his language skills on a national level, poisoning the political conversation in order to mislead the voting populace. Luntz has taken words, language, and twisted them into meanings that they were never meant to have, using his ‘force’ for evil instead of good. At least William Safire, in his column, wanted to educate people on the use of language; Frank Luntz has no such interest, rather, he uses his power to blur the lines between good and bad, one of the best examples of which is the title “The Clear Skies Initiative.” In my opinion, this type of wordsmithing (too grand a word for what Luntz does, but technically correct), has snowballed to the point that, now, conservatives’ speeches are a combination of big words that say nothing and stone-age grunts of “left – BAD.” I hold him personally responsible for much of destruction of our political discourse which has brought our country to its present state of Idiocracy.

Okay, enough of my words, let’s hear yours.

This is our daily Open Thread – communicate!

The Watering Hole; Friday October 9 2015; Guns and Insanity v. Reality

“What luck for rulers, that men do not think.”
~Adolf Hitler

When the wingnuts come out of their gun closets, hang onto your hats. Here are four of the most recent articles I’ve run across that very ably describe the depths to which insanity is capable of descending in the aftermath of yet another gun massacre.

Bobby Jindal Will End Mass Shootings By Telling Everyone He Is A Christian

Tony Perkins Blames Obama For UCC Shooting

WorldNetDaily Pundit Suggests The Obama Administration Is Behind Mass Shootings  Continue reading

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 8 2015; Pigs, Wings, and the GOP

’The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.’
~Lewis Carroll (1872)
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There)


I’ve always liked the metaphors that Lewis Carroll embedded in that little excerpt, especially the last line — MOST especially since the “launch” of the GOP’s 2016 Clown Car.

But it took the Washington Post’s October 7 ‘Opinion’ article by Paul Waldman — entitled Ben Carson perfectly explains the Republican position on guns — to cast the image in concrete. Here are a few of the more salient and definitive excerpts from one of the best ‘tonal’ summations of America’s gun-worship idiocy I’ve yet run across:

Carson is in the hot seat for comments he made about the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. But the real question is, why is everyone so upset with Carson? What he said is nothing more than the logical outgrowth of what nearly every Republican candidate and officeholder believes about guns. You can say he’s wrong, but you can’t say that his views should be any kind of surprise.

There were two things that Carson said that drew condemnation, one on television and one on his Facebook page:

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson attracted criticism Tuesday for appearing to suggest in an interview that the victims of last week’s tragic school shooting in Oregon should have acted more forcefully to prevent the attack.

“I would not just stand there and let him shoot me,” Carson said on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning. “I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’”

Carson on Monday night took to Facebook to denounce calls for increased gun regulation in the wake of another mass shooting, saying that the problem is not caused by Second Amendment protections and accusing gun-control advocates of politicizing the tragedy.

“As a Doctor, I spent many a night pulling bullets out of bodies,” he wrote. “There is no doubt that this senseless violence is breathtaking – but I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.”

Waldman adds,

Let’s take these one at a time. Was it unspeakably insulting to the victims of the Oregon shooting and their families to suggest that they were killed or injured because they didn’t have the physical courage and quick thinking that a hero like Carson would have displayed had he been in their shoes? Of course. And is it an absurd fantasy that in the instant he was confronted by a gunman, Carson would in the space of seconds organize a bunch of terrified strangers to mount an assault on someone ready to kill them? You bet it is

But this fantasy is nothing unusual at all. In fact, it lies at the heart of much of the efforts Republicans have made at the behest of the National Rifle Association in recent years to change state laws on guns. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” says the NRA, and Republicans believe it, too. So they push for laws to allow guns to be brought into as many places as possible — schools, government buildings, churches, anywhere and everywhere. They advocate “stand your ground” laws that encourage people to use guns to settle arguments. They seek both open-carry and concealed-carry laws on a “shall issue” basis (meaning the government presumes that you should get the license unless it can prove you fall into certain categories of offenders) to put guns in as many hands as possible.

All of this is driven by the fantasy of the gun owner as action hero. Sure, the world may see you as just a middle-age middle manager with an expanding gut and a retreating hairline, but at any moment you could be transformed into Jack Bauer! Woe be to the al-Qaeda commando team or deranged shooter who comes to your town, because you’ll be ready for ’em! The world is divided into the sheep who cower while waiting to be killed, and those possessed of the courage and firepower to stand up at those life-and-death moments. This is what the gun industry, the NRA and the Republican Party encourage people to believe. So, of course, Ben Carson believes it, too.

As for Carson’s assertion that “I never saw a body with bullet holes that was more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away,” that, too, is the natural outgrowth of the contemporary Republican position on guns.

Think for a moment about how we reorganized our government, our airline industry and entire swaths of our society, spending hundreds of billions of dollars, creating a new apparatus of surveillance, all because nearly 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. We didn’t like spending all that money, creating all that fear, compromising our privacy and constitutional principles and making everybody take off their shoes at the airport, but it was a price we had to pay because of those 3,000 deaths, right?

It takes about a month — every month, month after month — for that many Americans to be killed with guns. Just imagine how we would have reacted to an attack 10 or 11 times the scale of 9/11, which is but a single year of the death toll guns place on our country. In 2013, the latest year for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released data, 11,208 Americans were murdered with guns, and 505 Americans died due to accidental firearm discharge. Another 21,175 Americans killed themselves with guns (having a gun in the home dramatically increases one’s risk of suicide), for a total of 32,888 gun deaths.

. . .

But unlike their position on terrorism, the position that the entire Republican Party now adopts — not necessarily all its voters, but virtually all its elected representatives — is that a toll that size is simply not meaningful enough to justify any action to not even restrict, but merely to inconvenience Americans’ ability to own as many guns as they want and to get them as easily as they want.

And don’t forget — wingnuts everywhere are ANGRY at Obama because he POLITICIZED the Oregon mass murder by calling for more strict gun laws. They’re also ANGRY at him because tomorrow he’s going to be in Roseburg on an official visit to the site of the atrocity — all in the interest of gun privilege restriction, probably confiscation, of course.

And whilst on the topic of Pigs with Wings, this l’il tidbit popped up as if an additive to Carson’s nonsensical blathering:

Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, joined Mark Walters on Armed America Radio this week, where the two concluded that President Obama got emotional during his speech responding to last week’s mass shooting in Oregon not because the president was upset that nine people had died but because he was sad he couldn’t take people’s guns.

Right. Conclusion obvious: “Pigs” do indeed “have wings.” AKA the GOP (apologies for the implicit insult to pigs, btw).


The Watering Hole, Monday, October 5th, 2015: Mixed Bag Monday

Let’s start off with a bang:  According to Foreign Policy magazine, the same idiots in Congress who tried to stop the Iranian Nuclear Agreement now want to ‘make it up to Bibi’ by giving Israel bunker busters.  An excerpt from this excellently-written article by Jeffrey Davis:

Since the battle over the Iran deal was largely fought over the question of whether proponents loved Israel or not, both sides are talking loudly about providing the country with a big arms package. Those who supported the deal are eager to make it up to Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, while those opposed have to find ever more extreme proposals to prove they love Israel more.

This absurd competition — which is primarily about political posturing, not Israeli security — has reached an almost perfect level of absurdity. There is now a growing chorus of people arguing that the United States should give Israel the Massive Ordnance Penetrator — a huge conventional bunker-buster bomb — and a fleet of heavy bombers to drop it.

Israel’s air bases don’t even have runways that can accommodate heavy bombers, though apparently one base — Nevatim — could be modified.**

[**Personal note:  the engineer for whom I used to work had earned the money that enabled him to buy a nice house and start his own business from a contract constructing the Negev Air Base runways.]

Next, let’s go back to the Pope’s meeting with Kim Davis.  Although most news reports agree that the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S., Carlo Maria Vigano, arranged the visit, so far none seem to have specifically asked or answered “Why?”  Was it solely Reverend Vigano’s idea?  Or – yeah, I’m the suspicious, cynical type – did someone with a stake in a Papal stamp of approval of Kim Davis and her ilk, someone perhaps running for the Presidency, arrange this very, very quietly?  Yeah, I’m looking at you, Huckabee.

Only the Washington Post appears to be curious about the backstory of this now infamous meeting:

Church leaders in the United States and in Rome have been resolutely tight-lipped about the meeting, perhaps concerned about the prospect of appearing to publicly rebuke or challenge the pope, particularly on such a sensitive issue. At the same time, church-watchers have debated and swapped rumors about who set up the meeting, whether it was at the behest of the pope himself, or whether it was an idea pushed by other bishops or religious freedom advocates or donors.

Among those who declined to comment was the Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, at whose residence the meeting took place.

Rev. Thomas Rosica, an English-language spokesman for the Vatican, told the Associated Press. “And in the pope’s characteristic kindness and warmth and hospitality, he shook people’s hands and gave them rosaries. We should understand it as that. In terms of why this person was invited, you have to ask those questions of the nunciature.”

A controversial figure both in Rome and in the United States, Viganò has gone further than other church leaders in his campaign against same-sex marriage. Among other things, he appeared at an event this year with the National Organization for Marriage, a group that vocally opposes same-sex marriage and with which U.S. bishops typically don’t publicly ally.

And, of course, Liberty Counsel, and through them Kim Davis, are more or less calling Pope Francis a liar.  According to Christian Today’s article, “Kim Davis denies Vatican account of her meeting with Pope, says she was invited”:

“Disturbed by statements coming from the Vatican, gay marriage nemesis Kim Davis would like to set the records straight that it was the Vatican that extended an “unsolicited invitation” for her to hold a “private meeting” with Pope Francis at the Vatican embassy in Washington D.C. last Sept. 24.

Liberty Counsel, the group representing Davis, said the Kentucky county clerk—who spent six days in jail for defying a court order for her to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples—had spoken with papal representative Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano before she met the Pope.

“This meeting was a private meeting. No other members of the public were present,” Liberty Counsel said.

Davis, accompanied by her husband Joe and lawyer Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, arrived in Washington on the night of Sept. 23, the Liberty Counsel statement said.

The following day, the Davis couple were met by people with “heavy Italian accents” who led them to the Vatican embassy.

“Kim and Joe Davis were placed in a room with no one else present. Later Pope Francis arrived with only Vatican or Embassy personnel and security,” the Liberty Counsel statement said.

“He stretched out his hands. Kim clasped his hands, and he asked her to pray for him. She said she would, and she asked the Pontiff to pray for her, to which he said he would.

“Pope Francis then thanked Kim for her courage. They embraced. The Pope said, ‘Stay strong.’ He then presented Kim and Joe with two rosaries. There was no line of people or other members of the public seen anywhere,” the statement said.

Liberty Counsel said the Vatican requested Davis to keep the meeting a “secret” until the following Tuesday.”

Really?  In this particular case, I have to say that, since Liberty Counsel and Kim Davis are already proven liars, I tend to doubt their account of the “meeting”, which seems to be just another pathetic attempt to keep Liberty Counsel’s pet martyr for Christianity in the limelight.  But I still want to know, who really arranged this on Davis’s behalf with the Papal Ambassador?

Last, a belated birthday present for our resident Turtle:  from National Geographic, glowing sea turtle!

“The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle is the first reptile scientists have seen exhibiting biofluorescence—the ability to reflect the blue light hitting a surface and re-emit it as a different color. The most common colors are green, red, and orange.”

This is our daily Open Thread–go on, discuss things!

Sunday Roast: Mesmerize me, Fibonacci

I found this on facebook, which found it on The San Francisco Globe.  Never heard of it before, but I haven’t heard of everything yet.  Heh.

I watched this video until my eyeballs went googley, and then I watched it some more the next day.  Here’s the info:

John Edmark is an inventor, designer and artist who teaches design at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. One of his latest creations is a series of 3D-printed sculptures designed with proportions corresponding to the Fibonacci Sequence. When Edmark’s sculptures are spun at just the right frequency under a strobe light, a rather magical effect occurs: the sculptures seem to be animated or alive! The rotation speed is set to match the strobe flashes such that every time the sculpture rotates 137.5º, there is one corresponding flash from the strobe light.

These masterful illusions are the result of a marriage between art and mathematics. Fibonacci’s Sequence is defined as a recurrent relationship that can be expressed as  F_n = F_{n-1} + F_{n-2}…  where the first two digits of the sequence can be defined as F_1=1, and F_2=1. What this means is that the sequence starts with two 1’s, and each following digit is determined by adding together the previous two. Therefore, Fibonacci’s Sequence begins: {1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…} etc.

What does all that mean?  No seriously, I’m asking — what does all that mean?  I dunno, but it creates some pretty cool designs and amazingly mesmerizing video.  Or a dude in Palo Alto has way too much time on his hands — could be that.

This is our daily open thread — Watch the video over and over…