Thursday, March 30, 2017

So this week.............

So this week, J. Lord Dampnut addressed a Women's Empowerment gathering in DC. His opening remark, "Susan B. Anthony, what a babe. Nice rack, too," apparently did not go over well. ************* So this week, the House of Representatives voted to not require J. Lord to release his tax returns citing privacy issues and also voted to allow internet providers to sell my browsing history to the highest bidder. ****************So this week Exxon-Mobil urged the fake president to comply with the Paris Climate Accord. Yes, you saw that right, Exxon-Mobil wants our fake president to comply with the Paris Climate Accord. *************** So this week, Rep. Lamar Smith (R. - Texas), Chairman of the House Science Committee, accused Science magazine of being pro-science. "It is so clear that they are biased in favor of science," he said. ************* J. Lord Dampnut's new military strategy against ISIS, massive, indiscriminate bombing of civilian targets in heavily populated urban neighborhoods in Iraq and Syria, is off to a "great" start. "Despite huge civilian casualties, we're pretty sure, almost certain, that we might have gotten at least a couple of terrorists somewhere in there," a spokesperson said. "We'll be trying this in Somalia as well. **************** House Republicans accused Democrats of working together in the investigations of the administration's Russia connections. "They are sharing information, developing strategies, seeking documents, and asking questions almost everyday trying to get to the truth," one said. "That's not how we operate. It's just not fair." ******************* So this week, J. Lord has appointed his daughter Ivanka as a White House Advisor to the President for no pay. Ivanka, though, is said to be developing a new line of White House chic clothing to be marketed on-line. ******************So this week, Dampnut said he wanted to work with Democrats on health insurance reform. "It'll be easy," he said. Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House said he most certainly did not want to work with Democrats. Maybe no so easy after all. Later in the day, a short transcript of the conversations going on between the Republican Freedom Caucus and more moderate Republican Congressmen to try get the health insurance bill back on track was leaked by Repub sources: "Moron." "Asshat." "Socialist." "Fascist." "Imbecile." "F*** you." "Idiot." "Ignoramus." "Stupidest f*** ever elected." "Oh, yeah?" "Yeah." "Stick it up your a**." "F*** off."*********************The White House press secretary said he's not going to go down the slippery slope of saying what reporting about the White House is true and what is not. ********************Guide to J. Lord Dampnut/Russia scandal: As far as I can piece together so far about what happened, the US was invaded by a thousand paid Russian hackers launching internet bots spreading fake anti-Hillary Clinton news for months, perhaps years, in collusion with Russia's human agents Manafort and Flynn and others in the Dampnut campaign, Wikileaks, and the FBI, to get J. Lord Dampnut elected, whom the Russians have blackmailed with the Russian prostitute pissing video, his associations with the Russian Mafia, and his international banking money-laundering connections, to get him installed as president so he would lift sanctions on Russia put in place after Russian invaded Crimea, after which Putin would make $$$ billions on a big oil deal with Exxon-Mobil. The various pieces are all falling into place now. Nunes, Spicer, and Dampnut are doing their best to cover it up, and Russia is murdering its agents all over the world. Flynn now says he will testify in exchange for immunity. It all sounds like the plot of an implausible spy thriller with hundreds of characters, but it appears more and more real as time goes by. ********************** More on Russian connections: Carl Bernstein, reporter of Watergate fame, says heed Deepthroat's advise, "Follow the money." Clint Watts, national security expert, advised the Senate Intelligence to "follow the trail of dead Russians." I'm guessing those two lines of evidence intersect in this instance.*******************Finally, what the heck happened to Kellyanne Conway? I haven't seen her for at least a week.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A few thoughts on satire and fake news and the miserable state of affairs these days.......

As an amateur satirist and a teacher of essay writing I've been more and more forced by our current political climate to consider the elements of Fake News. Metropolitan Community College has recently added resource material on Fake News to its library home page. Helping students determine which news is real and which is fake is part of my job as an instructor in the classroom. As a purveyor of satire on fb and in my own blog, I'm often asked if what I write is true. It is usually true in a Colbertian "truthiness" sort of way -- not always literally true, with the understanding that literally now is unfortunately also defined as figuratively. Even the distinction between literal and figurative is no longer distinct. Lying has moved from covering crimes and indiscretions (Nixon and Clinton) to strategic (George W. Bush and weapons of mass distractions) to lying about everything large or small all the time (J. Lord Dampnut). The change from the big lie to lie all the time about everything is a challenge. I only print the news I make up except when I print the actual news I did not make up and readers think it's satire because it can't possibly be true in which case it is both true and has truthiness. I believe my fake news in not fake in the pejorative sense of the word. Actual Fake News does not contain truth, truthiness, or literal or figurative truth. Actual Fake News is meant to deceive and undermine truth and has propaganda value in the Orwellian sense of the word. My fake news, satire, is meant to remove the layers of obfuscation and deception from our commercial/political media machines. Fake news distorts truth; satire illuminates truth. It is getting tougher and tougher to write satire. I used to take news and exaggerate, parody, and mock it. Now I often just report the what happens. One of my friends left this comment on a recent blog: "Bud, you'd be the greatest satirist in the history of comedy if this wasn't all true. The Don, Shame Spiker and Kellyanne Convict and Prince Rebus make it all too easy for you--all you have to do is transcribe the week's (or often, one day's) events. Sad." We are transitioning from one of the most honest politicians of our history to perhaps the most dishonest one ever promulgating fusillades of mendacity tweet after tweet, hour after hour, day after day. It's not easy keeping up.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Worms on the Sidewalk

Worms on the Sidewalk* ** * * * * * * * April showers bring May flowers, But March rain brings worms on the sidewalk. Several theories explain this, but I read it's not to avoid drowning. They breathe through their skin and can absorb oxygen from the water. It might be that worms see this as an opportunity for speedier above ground travel – a worm sightseeing tour facilitated by the moisture of rain. It’s a lot faster that digesting your way inch by inch from one dark place to another. It might be that worms are seeking to mate – worm speed-dating on concrete in their peculiar simultaneous hermaphrodite-ness. Worms have both worm sex organs which make that sidewalk romance, uh, unusual, in a, you know, worm coitus sort of way. Or they might mistake pounding rain as the vibrations of a predator --and move up and out into the great beyond where many meet their Maker – or an opportunistic Robin. I’m assuming that most worms complete that four or five foot journey across the sidewalk and burrow down again at the earliest opportunity. So it's not a mass suicide. The dawdlers, though, get caught in an object lesson on Darwinism. We don’t know for sure which theory is correct. And worms don’t why they do what they do either. A worm brain isn’t that big. Worms live life without being aware they are alive: no pleasure, no sense of worm fulfillment, no sense of posterity. Worms do not have existential crises. Or even worry much. By the way, while the upper reaches of the lifespan of a worm in the wild may be only a few months, a worm in a protected environment – like working worms in a composting industry may live as long as 8 years. It is widely accepted that none of the 6,000 worm species golf although the same rain that moves worms to sidewalks also moves them to golf greens where they are often caught by emerging sunshine midway on their journey and end up as shriveled twigs you have to move so they don’t deflect the ball when you putt. I’ve tossed partially shriveled worms from golf greens back to the longer grass thinking they might have a chance at survival, but probably not.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Another $3 Million Golf Weekend

In what is turning out to be a typical week for J. Lord Dampnut, he: said stupid stuff, lied about some other stuff, took stuff away from poor people, picked a pointless fight with an ally, tweeted about Snoop Dogg, broke a dozen campaign promises, possibly leaked his 2005 tax form to the press, sent troops to a war zone, and will take a long golfing weekend. * * * * * * * * * * * * * Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded this week to the CBO projection that 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the Republican Health Care plan: "This is encouraging. If we can get that number up to 30 million or even higher, we will be able to give even larger tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. It's a win-win scenario; poor Americans will have the freedom to have no health insurance and rich people will receive huge tax cuts."* * * * * * * * * * In a short statement today in light of the CBO determining that 24 million Americans would lose their health insurance under the current Republican plan, and premiums for those still covered might rise as much as 750%, the White House and Congressional Republicans clarified their position on health insurance and health care reform: "We really don't give a shit whether poor people have health care or insurance or not. Get real."* * * * * * * * * * In other clarifying statements this week J. Lord Dampnut said: "When I said we WOULD NOT cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security, what I meant was WE WILL cut Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security." * * * * * * * * *"When I said everyone would have insurance and it would be great and cost less, what I meant was 24 million people would lose their health insurance, it would be crappy, and it would cost a lot more." * * * * * * * * *** * J. Lord Dampnut's press secretary Sean Spicer said today: "When the President said Barack Obama tapped his phones at Trump Tower, he didn't actually mean Obama or tap or phones, he meant the microwaves ovens were taking pictures of him." * * * * * * * * * * * * * After avoiding the issue for decades, Congress is finally ready to make gun deaths quieter. "Nothing is quite as disturbing as hearing gunshots in the neighbor's house or on the street." The legislation would make it legal for anyone to purchase a silencer for their guns. * * * * * * * * * * Here is a quick summary of the President's statements about his executive order on immigration: J. Lord Dampnut - June - We must ban Muslims. July - We must ban Muslims. Aug. - We must ban Muslims. Sept. We must ban Muslims. Oct. - We must ban Muslims. Nov and Dec. - We must ban Muslims. Jan. to a Hawaiian judge - Our ban has nothing to do with religion. * * * * * * * * * In a flurry of activity before heading down to Mara Lago Golf Resort in Air Force One for a $3 million weekend of golf, Dampnut demanded to see the birth certificate of the Hawaiian Federal judge who put a hold on the Executive Order to ban Muslims. The President also proposed eliminating all money for the arts and for Meals on Wheels for the elderly: "We cannot make America great again until we stop feeding old people," he said.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Poor Care

Low income and sick? Don't worry. You too can get the new Republican health plan: Poor Care. We will guarantee that every low income American will receive Poor Care at a doctor's office or Poor Care at a hospital emergency room. Pregnant? Don't worry. You can get Poor Care anywhere but Planned Parenthood. Already have kids? Don't worry. They will also receive Poor Care. Poor Care for everyone who is not rich is our motto! Poor Care will available in every rural area in America, urban centers, suburbs. Under the Republican plan, Poor Care will be the new normal. "Believe me," said J. Lord Dampnut, "if you are of lower income under my Administration, you will receive Poor Care, very Poor Care." * * * * * * * * * * * Speaker of the House Republican Paul Ryan, discussing health insurance in a power point presentation before Congress, doesn't think it is right that people in good health help pay for people in not so good health. Dude. That's what health insurance is. * * ** * * * * * * * * So far everybody likes the Republican plan to replace the ACA (the plan takes health insurance away from 10 million Americans increases costs to almost everyone covered to give $600 billion in tax cuts to people earning over $250,000 a year) except the AARP, the AMA, the association of hospitals, nurses, conservative Republicans, moderate Republicans, all Democrats, and 20 million Americans who now have health insurance who would not otherwise have it. * * * * * * * * * * A full 10% of the Republican no health care bill has to do with lottery winners who receive medicaid. And strangely enough, I have no problem with someone who wins $10 million being disqualified from medicaid. Nevertheless, it can't be that large a problem. Republicans seem to regularly use the "outlier" situation as the common denominator. So because someone somewhere won a bundle and used a technicality to get medicaid, 10 to 20 million Americans must therefore have their health insurance taken away? Seems like a bad idea to me.* * * * * * * * * * * The removal of the word "Affordable" from the bill's title pretty much covers it. * * * * * * * * * After seeing parts of Ben Carson's speech to employees of HUD, the only job I can see Ben Carson actually doing well is creepy televangelist. * * * * * * * * * * People who don't understand health insurance are writing the ACA replacement bill, people who don't see a connection between carbon dioxide and global temperature are in charge of environmental protection, people who don't understand education are in charge of the Dept. of Education, oil industry executives connected to Russia are in charge of the State Department, religious ideologues in charge of scientific research, Rick Perry is in charge of our nuclear arsenal.....and so on.......people who undermined democracy are in charge of our government. Ask yourself: What could possibly go wrong?"

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Spellcheck, Spell-check, and Spell check

It was a late night. I was working on some Jim Beam over ice. The TV series Bones was on, but I wasn’t really watching. I was writing. Earlier, wind had been howling like a hungry coyote at the window. But now it was quiet. A quiet had set over the neighborhood like the quiet that sets over a neighbourhood at this time of night -- a quiet neighborhood that at this time of night is quiet when the quiet sets in. Not like noisy neighbourhoods at this time of the night that are noisy, but like quiet neighborhoods and this time of night that are quiet. Like I said, I was writing. I was writing this. I had a dream last night. The dream was about spell checking programs. I have Microsoft Word 2016 and if I misspell a word I get that red squiggly line under the misspelled word. But this one time it was a problem. This time, and this time only, I was right. Microsoft Word 2016 was wrong. I don’t remember the word, but I was strangely optimistic that I would. In the dream, I dreamed/dreamt the line: After a terrifying encounter with Microsoft Word 2016 spell-checker, I was strangely optimistic for the future. The dream was about a man having a bad experience with the spell check feature in Word 2016. There was a word. I don’t remember the word. But it was a word. It had letters. It had sounds. It was a word. But I don’t remember the word. What that experience was was lost shortly after waking up……something to do with the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, or so I read. Peptides or enzymes or something. Nevertheless, spell check can be a handy aspect of writing. I advise my students to be sure their spell check program is turned on. You know, whisper sweet nothings. Spell check will not, however, detect an incorrectly used word if spelled correctly: many homonyms will pass as correct spelled even though they are not the right word. Right/write. Wrung/rung. Taut/taught. Not/naught. And think about advisor/adviser, or British English and American English. I mean, we do speak English do we not? There are about 175 words spelled differently in English English: for example, Color/Colour. Many spelling variations occurred when the first moveable type printers, those English fellows hunched over their moveable type presses dimly lit by oil lamps, printing their preferred spelling of words. Nedley Smythington spelled it one way. Basil Hickenlooper in the next village spelled it another way. Snodgrass Oyston in the next. And so on. Some spellings caught on, some didn’t. Sometimes both or several caught on. Near to my heart (and palate) is whiskey/whisky. According to an online (on-line) encyclopedia: Much is made of the word's two spellings: whisky and whiskey.[3][4] There are two schools of thought on the issue. One is that the spelling difference is simply a matter of regional language convention for the spelling of a word, indicating that the spelling varies depending on the intended audience or the background or personal preferences of the writer (like the difference between color and colour; or recognize and recognise),[3][4] and the other is that the spelling should depend on the style or origin of the spirit being described. There is general agreement that when quoting the proper name printed on a label, the spelling on the label should not be altered.[3][4] Some writers[who?] refer to "whisk(e)y" or "whisky/whiskey" to acknowledge the variation. The spelling whiskey is common in Ireland and the United States, while whisky is used in all other whisky producing countries.[5] In the US, the usage has not always been consistent. From the late eighteenth century to the mid twentieth century, American writers used both spellings interchangeably until the introduction of newspaper style guides.[6] Since the 1960s, American writers have increasingly used whiskey as the accepted spelling for aged grain spirits made in the US and whisky for aged grain spirits made outside the US.[7] However, some prominent American brands, such as George Dickel, Maker's Mark, and Old Forester (all made by different companies), use the whisky spelling on their labels, and the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits, the legal regulations for spirit in the US, also use the whisky spelling throughout.[8] "Scotch" is the internationally recognized term for "Scotch whisky". (Wikipedia) Ghoti deserves special mention- also from Wikipedia: The first confirmed use of the word is in a letter from Charles Ollier to Leigh Hunt. On the third page of that letter, dated 11 December 1855, Ollier explains, "My Son William has hit upon a new method of spelling 'Fish'." Ollier then demonstrates that "Ghoti is Fish." An early known published reference dates to 1874, citing the above letter. The letter credits ghoti to William Ollier Jr. (born 1824). Ghoti is often cited to support the English spelling reform, and is often attributed to George Bernard Shaw,[4] a supporter of this cause. However, the word does not appear in Shaw's writings,[3] and a biography of Shaw attributes it instead to an anonymous spelling reformer.[5] Similar constructed words exist that demonstrate English idiosyncrasies,[1] but ghoti is the most widely recognized. Notable usage: In Finnegans Wake, James Joyce alludes to ghoti: "Gee each owe tea eye smells fish." In the constructed language of Klingon, 'ghoti' is the proper word for "fish". And while I'm the subject of phonetic spelling --- why isn't phonetic spelled with an 'f'? Dictionaries eventually attempted to standardize spelling with some success although there were some issues: the first strictly English dictionary was titled "A Table Alphabeticall" by Cawdrey 1604. Samuel Johnson's dictionary gave way several hundreds years later to The American Heritage dictionary. Cawdrey begat Johnson begat Webster begat American Heritage and centrifugal and centripetal forces continued to work as prescriptivists engaged and gained temporary advantage back and forth with descriptivists to this very day. Now here’s the thing. Spell check is a modern word and can be spelled spellcheck, spell-check, or spell check.........that is so f***** up. I mean why even bother? Layers of irony live in this spell checking world in which spell check can be spelled three different ways. It's the centrifugal force of the internet v. the centripetal force of print mediums. It’s a metaphor for the variety and spice of English spelling. It’s the beauty of anarchy and chaos, individuality and freedom. Here’s one for you: “I spelt ‘learnt’ right.” Or “I learnt that ‘spelt’ was a correct spelling of the past tense of spell.” We have no problem saying, “She dealt the cards.” Or “I felt sorry for him.” It does get pretty random. One explanation of alternate past tense endings is the older original English words had those “irregular” endings, while newer words adopted a more “regular” -ed past tense indicator. Young children even apply this principle to new words they learn: the past tense of run becomes “runned.” Or I “drinked” my milk. One internet study analyzed randomly selected documents and found the same words spelled in different ways in the same documents in the following frequencies: 1 organise / organize 12.4% 2 centre / center 6.5% 3 focussed / focused 3.0% 4 recognise / recognize 3.0% 5 analyse / analyze 1.7% 6 advisor / adviser 1.5% 7 learnt / learned 1.4% 8 finalise / finalize 1.2% 9 emphasise / emphasize 1.1% 10 labour / labor 1.0% Modern English spelling is largely based on Middle English spelling but pronunciation has changed. Linquists call this The Great Vowel Shift.
In general, the tongue moved higher in the mouth over about 250 years. It’s hard to say quite why this occurred. Tighter pants perhaps? Rancid food? Prominent citizens with speech impediments? Colder weather? Bad oysters? But then came the printing presses. From Wikipedia: “The printing press was introduced to England in the 1470s by William Caxton and later Richard Pynson. The adoption and use of the printing press accelerated the process of standardization of English spelling, which continued into the 16th century. The standard spellings were those of Middle English pronunciation, and spelling conventions continued from Old English. However, the Middle English spellings were retained into Modern English while the Great Vowel Shift was taking place, which caused some of the peculiarities of Modern English spelling in relation to vowels.” Of course, you need to know the International Phonetic Alphabet to interpret the above chart. So here:
Of course, there was a far earlier “consonant shift” which occurred in Proto-Indo-European which predates written language entirely and analyses/analyzes relationships among cognate language and sounds shifts where d’s become t’s and p’s become f’s and so on…… Pater and father. Fader and father. And thousands of inter-language correspondences. Jacob Grimm of the fairy tale Grimm brothers researched this phenomenon.
English is at the tip end of one of those Germanic/West Germanic strings sandwiched between Danish and Frisian. One of my favorite courses in college was Dr. Richard Lane’s History of the English Language. Another was Dr. Gordon Mundell’s Linguistics. But I digress from my I had a dream essay. So now you know. So be sure to cheque your spelling……….. And, sweet dreams.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

I liked that 1966 movie in which a Russian submarine runs aground off New England causing panic among the local villagers. A hodge podge group of locals dressed in their WW II uniforms armed with muskets and swords is ready to defend their village and go to war. Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, and Eva Marie Saint starred in this movie and by sheer luck, human kindness prevails over cold war mentality, and a major international confrontation is avoided. * * * * * * * * * So the thing is in this politics of the absurd playing out in front of us is J. Lord Dampnut and his campaign cronies conspired with Russia and the FBI to influence the US Presidential election and then tried to cover it up. This cover up is unraveling at an increasing pace this week. * * * * * * * * * It turns out that Attorney General Jeff Sessions used campaign funds to travel to a city to meet with the Russian Ambassador- "I did not have sexual relations with that man, the Russian Ambassador." * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Here's a simple guide to understanding the Russia controversies: Trump and his campaign conspired with the FBI and Russia to influence the election in Trump's favor. Why would he do this? He's hundreds of million in debt to the Russian mob and cut a $500 billion deal with Putin, owner of Russia's largest oil company, and Exxon Oil to lift sanctions, enrich Putin, himself, and Tillerson, former Exxon CEO and the new Secretary of State, protect himself from the Russian mob, and continue his Russian money laundering operation. Crimea doesn't matter; Ukraine doesn't matter. His entire campaign staff met with Russians regularly, every day, all the time, 24/7. Russian diplomats, by the way, are dropping dead all over the globe over the last month. Probably just a coincidence. Another thing to keep in mind is that J. Lord Dampnut lies about everything, all the time, everywhere, no matter how trivial or important the thing is. * * * * * * * * * J. Lord Dampnut today accused former President of performing an illegal brain scan on him at Trump Tower. "They found nothing," J. Lord said. "They found nothing in Melania or my children either." * * * * * * * * *
Dumbest thing said by J. Lord Dampnut this week: "Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Dude - we all knew it, you ridiculous bagwumple fart.* * * * * * * * * J. Lord Dampnut says 94,000,000 Americans are out of the work force. He has a plan to put about half of them back to work: cut their Social Security and Medicare. "Deporting 12 million illegal Mexicans will open up a lot of fruit/vegetable picking jobs, fast food jobs, landscape work, and day labor which our senior citizens can do," he said. "Most grandmothers know how to cook." * * * * * * * * * * * I'm reading J. Lord Dampnut's litany of the horrors he inherited from the former President: ISIS on the decline, record stock market, 4.8% unemployment, 20 million new Americans with health insurance, zero net immigration, budget deficits on the decline. Compared to what President Obama inherited from George W. Bush, J. Lord Dampnut inherited a fortune. Oh wait, he did -- from his dad. * * * * * * * * * New Republican slogan being market tested: "Republicans - Making Billionaires Rich Again." Apparently, it tests well with the top one/tenth of one percent.* * * * * * * * * * * The image of Trump supporters waving Russian flags at a pro-Trump rally was in the news this week. Apparently, the audience was tricked by anti-Trump operatives who handed out the flags. Oops. * * * * * * * * In other strange technology news this week: My computer notified me the other night that there were no new notifications. Go figure.